August 22nd, 2022
‘Check your facial expressions in the corner of the screen to see how you appear.’

UD likes to revisit, via her category CLICK-THRU U, the ongoing glories of online teaching.

After directing students to center themselves, keep looking directly into the camera, and maintain at all times an “attentive, present, and professional” demeanor, the instructor (see this post’s title) coaches her class to regularly scrutinize their own visage in case their professional facial expression flags.

UD suggests that if this professor remains unsatisfied with the degree of student cooperation, she refer them to any ten or twenty pages of Orwell’s 1984, with special reference to Winston Smith.

April 6th, 2022
The Human Animal.

At Yale.

May 5th, 2020
Much as UD loathes litigiousness …

… she has to admit that the class lawsuits now emerging from parents who understand what everyone with half a brain understands – online classes are distinctly inferior to in-person – have merit.

Of course, if you’ve been reading her Click-Thru U category for the last decade or so, you know that UD has been railing against the lazy cynical trend toward onlining more and more college (and high school) classes. It’s cheap, so universities tend to like it; you can cheat, so students tend to like it (once football schools got hold of the whole online course model, they went nuts); and you can do it from your Mexican palapa or even parcel most of the labor out to various faceless nameless drudges, so professors tend to like it…

But when many of the people (students; some teachers) involved in an expensive university course are basically phoning it in… or when (however hard participants are trying) the highly prized physical presence and social interaction of enthusiastic, charismatic experts is absolutely gone, parents tend to notice.

Everyone knows the peculiar pressurized circumstances of current nationwide online education; even granting that, however, one can ask whether a discount should apply.

February 9th, 2018
‘When asked why she thought her professor might have been confused, Arnold said her older age might have been a factor. “When did Australia become a country? Maybe she thinks it’s still part of England,” she said. After being told by BuzzFeed News that happened some 117 years ago, Arnold said, “Oh, she’s not that old, so there’s no excuse.”’

As UD has said time and time again: Most online courses suck.

February 1st, 2018
Most Online Courses Suck.

Not all of them do, but most of them do. (Read this blog’s Click-Thru U and/or Technolust categories.) They’re positively criminal for slower learners — and in public high schools, slower learners are exactly the people the system shunts into online “credit recovery” courses, unsupervised, cheating-friendly, online make-up classes. If you flunk out of a person-to-person class, you can still get the credits you need to graduate by pretending you took the same material online. It’s a solution sweeping the nation, a scandal in every state, but UD‘s own Washington DC has had truly remarkable results with the technology: Every year, all but two public schools illegitimately graduate gobs of students.


The romance with tacky online education continues to power forward in this country, because there’s plenty of money in it for the vendor, and because it’s absolute bliss for give-a-shit cynics. Despite all the scandals, expect it to grow.

Take heed of one thing DC schools are doing right away in response to the scandal: They’re keeping the program but calling it something other than “credit recovery.”


But they’ll never beat the pros.

September 6th, 2016
Another scummy tax syphon bites the dust.

Read Good Riddance by David Halperin. ‘Tis all ye need to know.

August 24th, 2016
For-Profit Cynicism Knows No Party

The Clintons were just as willing to enrich themselves via the scummy tax-syphons as many Republicans were and are. Bill’s bogus chancellorship at a for-profit school paid him many millions to jet around the world now and then making inspirational speeches. UD is obviously a strong Hillary supporter, but the Clintons are paying now for what they did, and I’m afraid they deserve to.

Go to my Click-Thru U category for years of incredulity and anger that this should-be-criminal enterprise continues to thrive.

June 1st, 2016
Hm. Decisions, decisions.

Trump University or another for-profit school?

Trump University had one major difference with all these other for-profit colleges. Because it was unlicensed and unaccredited, it was not eligible for federal student grants and loans. The for-profit college industry has been taking as much as $32 billion a year in this funding. So while the cost of Trump University’s abuses came down only on its students, the other colleges have spread this misery among students, many of them lower-income than the typical Trump enrollee, but also on taxpayers.

April 29th, 2016
Banned in Boston

A Tufts University professor says no.

After having a laissez-faire policy on laptops in my classrooms for my first decade of teaching, I have pretty much banned them. I knew that taking notes by hand is much, much better for learning than taking notes on a computer (the latter allows the student to transcribe without thinking; the former forces the student to cognitively process what is worthy of note-taking and what is not), but I figured that was the student’s choice. The tipping point for me was research showing that open screens in a classroom distract students close to the screen. So I went all paternalistic and decided to eliminate them from my classroom. The effect was immediate — my students were more engaged with the material.

Same for PowerPoints and Lecture-By-Skype and so on and so on.

MOOCs (as UD has discovered) can be great as non-credit-bearing world-outreach sorts of things, but they can be just as cheesy as many online and PowerPoint-heavy and Go-Ahead-And-Use-Your-Laptops courses when you try to pretend they’re equivalent – in intrinsic value, and in credit-worthiness – to non-laptopped, in-class courses.

April 27th, 2016
“At the end of the day, I feel like the professors I’ve enjoyed the most and have been the most interesting to me have been the ones that can make a class interesting without a laptop, that make you want to participate in dialogue,” said [an] environmental studies major. “And the fact that they don’t let you have a computer doesn’t really matter at that point, because I’m interested in [class].”

It begins to dawn on yet another university that laptops in classrooms are lunacy. In a nicely titled article (Bodies Present, Brains Unaccounted For) students at Loyola University Chicago feature the unsurprising results of polls and interviews that underscore the brain-removal service that is the personal computer in the classroom.

As always with such pieces, the journalists find a couple of give-a-shit finance professors who say it ain’t my job to create classroom conditions in which students pay attention…

April 18th, 2016
A recent comment on the scandalous decision of the President of the University of Arizona…

… to remain on the board of for-profit Devry. And a reminder of one of the many benefits of big-money university sports.

DeVry wants [Ann Weaver] Hart for the U of Arizona name and prestige, not for Hart herself. She brings nothing to the table, certainly nothing worth $170,000 a year. The University of Arizona name and its international distinction belong to all of Arizona, not to her for her private benefit or for the benefit of a private entity. (Alas, any moral force the Board of Regents may have had is long gone since coaches regularly appear on local TV as hucksters for businesses wearing their Arizona logos and even with the student Wildcat mascot in the background of commercials).

April 18th, 2016
Loath as UD is to appear cynical…

… she must state for the record that whether it’s Trump University or the University of Phoenix or Laureate International Universities or the Minerva Project, most of it ranges from lousy to fraudulent, and just as many Democrats as Republicans are happy to make money off of it.

UD has her own favorite examples of this greedy hypocritical activity…

But more immediately, keep in mind that thanks to Hillary Clinton’s warm relationships with several for-profits, she has made it easy for Donald Trump to defend his own shitty chiseling ed venture as pretty much indistinguishable from several similar ventures with which Clinton has been involved.

April 11th, 2016
The implicit transaction underlying some (by no means all) credit-bearing online courses at American universities is…

… a variant of what they used to say under communism: You pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.

Here, it’s You pretend to teach us and we pretend to learn. Students are supposed to understand that they will get little intellectual benefit from a quickie encounter with some PowerPoints and an invisible drudge. They are expected to be willing to part with a lot of money for this, because it means that with little effort on their part (or on the part of whoever is taking the course for them) a respectable university is going to give them a credential that will lead to a bigger salary.

The university is expected to make a fortune by hiring cheap drudges to vaguely oversee a course already long set up by a third party specializing in such “packets.”

The implicit bug in this transaction is the emergence of a student or students who are both naive and want to learn. No one has ever told them what the implicit transaction is. And they actually want a professor with expertise and commitment to teach them something.

In this situation, you are on a collision course, and the university may at least have to reimburse, and at most have to deal with a lawsuit.

UD‘s university, GW, has now had to deal with each of these outcomes. A few years ago, the chair of its physician assistant program gave two required online courses about which students “reported they [all] received an A … but received no instruction.” They got refunds and the professor had to go away. (She got a job at the University of Texas, where I guess they find her skill set attractive.)

And now GW faces a class action lawsuit by a bunch of people who took Security and Safety Leadership online. They claim they couldn’t find the instructor at all; the instructor did not respond to emails. The course, they say, was a bunch of PowerPoint slides taken from in-class courses but simply put on the screen without any online lecturing to accompany them.

Or any translation. Here’s one of the PowerPoints:

“Implementing intelligence-led model
“Conditions and requirements:
“Law intelligence can be successful if they have a robust intelligence gathering capabilities.
“If you they strong analytical capabilities.
“If you they strong problem solving capabilities.”

That’s worth $30,000, no?

The problem with defending against online course lawsuits – the reason GW is un p’tit peu up shit’s creek – is obvious. Everything’s written down. Grab a screenshot and take it to the judge. If this course’s drudge turns out to be not even up to existing drudge standards, that will be obvious to anyone who can read.

November 16th, 2015
Don’t worry kiddies: The nice man from Goldman Sachs will work everything out.

I’m sure. All he ever wanted was to help educate underprivileged you. That’s all he and his company ever want – to help make the world a better place. You’ve seen their tv ads.

If Education Management Corporation is running into a little trouble, I’m sure Mr Blankfein and that other nice man, the one from KKR, will get together (don’t they look nice?) and take care of things.


Me, I can only skim this.

Maybe you’re made of tougher stuff.

October 31st, 2015
‘”We believe the program will help prepare Mr. Smith for the prison experience, letting him know what to expect and facilitating a smooth institutional adjustment,” defense lawyer Marc Fernich wrote in a letter to the court.’

There’s nothing like the prison experience! And once you’ve bribed your way there, you’re going to want the inside scoop on la vie carcérale!

Fortunately, a special seminar is available on “prison conditions and correctional issues,” and one of New York State’s scads of political criminals wants to delay serving his sentence so he can attend this seminar and be as academically prepared for jail as possible. However:

A federal judge in suburban White Plains has rejected Malcolm Smith’s request to delay his seven-year sentence so he could attend a seminar on living behind bars.

Bummer. He’s going to have to go in there without any training.

Maybe they have an online version of the course!

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