Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Of Mad Men and MOOCs

Of MOOCs: Once again, with the UVa mess, we have a group of privileged people who presumably reaped the benefits of face-to-face higher education in the humanities anxious to ensure that others do not receive the same benefits (go read the links at Historiann's or IHE). Once again we have wildly enthusiastic cheerleading with no critical analysis from the Masters of the Universe at the WSJ:
This challenge can be met. Over the long term, online technology promises historic improvements in the quality of and access to higher education. The fact is, students do not need to be on campus at Harvard or MIT to experience some of the key benefits of an elite education.
The WSJ and the U.Va. board members cited Head Cheerleader David Brooks, so no surprises there. And this:
Institutions such as the University of Phoenix—and it is hardly alone—have embraced technology aggressively. By integrating online courses into their curricula and charging less-than-elite prices for them, for-profit institutions have doubled their share of the U.S. higher education market in the last decade, now topping 10%.
Aside from showing an astonishing lack of awareness that just maybe traditional institutions are also promoting online courses and maybe, just maybe, have also pursued technological innovation, this is the "if it makes money, it must be good!" school of logic, the kind that says that a summer blockbuster is better than an indy film because it makes more money.
And this:
College X can thus offer stellar lectures from the best professors in the world—and do locally what it does best, person to person.
No one is asking whether College X can continue to exist if it focuses only on high-intensity, high-cost person-to-person classes without the lecture classes to support it. Is a state legislator going to fund those courses in this continuing Great Recession?

Of Mad Men (season 5 spoilers ahead):
  • Great concluding scene. Great music.  After the two James Bond music cues, I expected to have him say, "Draper. Don Draper" to the girl at the bar. 
  • One parallel between Lane Pryce and Adam Whitman, besides the manner of their deaths and Don's guilt, is that they are both redheads. Should any male redheads on this show worry about their longevity? Or is that any redhead of either sex except Joan, given that the woman Don strangled in his fever dream had red hair (as did Megan's friend who got fired from Dark Shadows)?
  • Weiner & co. are paying attention to physical similarities this season even more than before--hence Pete & his virtual twin Beth with their youthful looks and twice-discussed blue eyes.  No wonder Pete fell in love: she's the female Pete physically as well as emotionally. Megan, dark hair and sexy good looks, is a young advertising wunderkind like Don who uses her sexuality to control him. Roger has met his match with Marie  "don't bother me with commitment" Calvet. Is Weiner saying that men can only fall in love with female versions of themselves? 
  • Megan tells Don she loves him more frequently than Betty ever did--but it's always in the context of something he does for her.  He gets her an audition: "I love you, you know." Is it just a way of thanking him, or does she mean it? 


Anonymous said...

"we have a group of privileged people who presumably reaped the benefits of face-to-face higher education in the humanities anxious to ensure that others do not receive the same benefits"

This assumes that said privileged people actually bothered attending class rather than just collecting their gentlemen's Cs. Wasn't that Rick Perry's reasoning for trying to destroy higher education?

Aurora said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
undine said...

They probably didn't attend class, but then again, they don't have to attend class to gain the social capital that a high-status school confers. That's another thing that no one's talking about much--the two-tier system that this sets up.

Z said...

Actually, I think that some of the places that actually provide a few of the benefits of an elite education to non elite students are some non famous but traditional brick and mortar schools.

At the fancy R1s now, with the budget crunch, many undergraduates are rarely taught by regular, tenure track or tenured faculty -- it´s all TAs, visitings, lecturers, and so on. Go a tier down and they meet real, current, experienced, connected, genuine professors. A better option than Harvard on line, I really think.