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Sunday, June 29, 2014

More Online nonsense: Starbucks and Arizona State agree to do nothing useful

In a deal that was announced with great fanfare last week, Arizona State and Starbucks agreed to let Baristas get on line degrees at ASU. The facts were a little different from the way they were first perceived. This is from Huffington Post:

Arizona State University President Michael Crow told The Chronicle of Higher Education that Starbucks is not contributing any money toward the scholarship portion. Instead, Arizona State will essentially charge workers less than the sticker price for online tuition.

Still this is certainly wonderful because now Starbucks employees can finish their degrees. Oh. Wait. This is online education, which as I have declared previously as being now officially dead.  

Let’s hear from ASU itself about their online degrees.
The original video is here:

My favorite part:

“In this course, the activities for the week include discussion posts, readings, audio narrated slide lectures,
e-text content, a work sheet activity, and web links, a podcast, and videos.”

The video says that all ASU online courses are like this. In other words, students get listen to lectures, read, and get to post their points of view.  After this exciting educational experience, they will have earned credits and after enough credits a degree. As for getting an education, well, not so much.  They will probably be qualified to be Baristas.

We continue to fail to recognize that online programs are typically unimportant and deceitful. Online programs that will get you a degree where you have never actually done anything but read and listen, and post to a discussion board, and then take a test are simply not actual education.

So ASU has joined as another player in the “we don’t take learning seriously" market.

Learning, I will mention one more time, involves doing, which involves trying and failing, and which is best done under the guidance of something called a teacher (who helps you improve your work.)

If a computer and the web are to be involved we need to build Mentored Simulated Experiences, where doing actually takes place (and where there are no lectures.)

I can understand why Starbucks doesn’t care about actual education for its employees, but I know Michael Crow and I thought he did care about education. Guess I was wrong.


Mark said...

Solid post on the Emperor's new clothes. My question would be though that it's not an inherent fault in "online" as a medium but rather a failure on our part to understand both education and the capabilities of being online right? I want to believe that if only we complete these two Aegean tasks then the medium itself offers great potential - or am I way off?

Roger Schank said...

an education system that relies on lectures and tests is bad no matter how you look at it; we train pilots with air flight simulators; we can build simulated experiences if we want to; it is simply cheaper to lecture to 1000 students; we can fix this on line more easily more easily that we could by trying to rebuild the colleges