Cheating is endemic to online courses at all levels and in all settings, as everyone knows.

The only surprise in this case is that someone owned up to it.

“Although online programs are billed as time and cost effective, schools like Nova and Liberty University prove otherwise. About 98 percent of graduate students at Liberty, founded by evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, are enrolled in online programs that led them to borrow $351 million in a single year.”

Cheesy online programs. Home of the suckers.

“‘We’ve come to expect these unjust assaults,’ said Gene Feichtner, president and chief operating officer of the huge for-profit chain ITT Technical Institute, which has been sued by CFPB, faces fraud charges from SEC and is under investigation by 16 state attorneys general. “

Ah. With each clause, UD’s smile widens.


Very good brief backgrounder here.


The next big change, they say, came in 2006, when Congress passed legislation backed by the Bush administration that erased a requirement that colleges deliver at least half their courses on a campus.
The top regulator on higher education at the Education Department during this time was Sally Stroup, now general counsel for the for-profit’s chief lobbying arm, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.

“That’s when these guys took off,” said Tom Harkin, a former Democratic senator from Iowa who led a 2012 investigation into the for-profit industry. He said moving everything online made it easier for private investors to snap up failing schools and hide from regulators. Meanwhile, the schools invested heavily in lobbyists and making political connections that guaranteed access to federal student aid would be protected, he said.

“These schools went out and ran wild with government money,” Harkin said.


A fed’ral official named Stroup
Did the ol’ gov-to-biz loop de loop:
She made our schools trash
And sucked in the cash
But now it is time to regroup.

“[N]one of this is unexpected. Rather, we refused to heed the warning signs, especially in the form of disproportionate rates of student loan defaults in the for-profit sector.”

Well. Now that the tax syphons have syphoned up our taxes and subjected a population used to exploitation to yet more exploitation, what’s next? Goldman Sachs has made its money on the for-profit ed scam and will no doubt soon be getting the hell out while the getting’s good. Goldman Sachs stands at the opposite end of the social spectrum from the exploited masses. Goldman Sachs knows what’s what, and is unhampered by morality.

As for the suckers left holding the bag (you, me, and the students of for-profit schools): I’m sure Lloyd Blankfein has a little lecture to give us all on how markets operate.

Letter to the Corinthians

Prepare Thyself.


Corinthians, Chapter 13:

Fraud always cheats, always lies, always scams, always eventually files for bankruptcy.

“[T]he once wildly profitable for-profit education sector is for the birds.”

Good and totally predictable news. But meanwhile a lot of people got hurt (those paying back pointless loans continue to get hurt), and a lot of taxpayers got taken.

Of course the industry continues to take our taxes and put suckers in debt. But it’s definitely, finally, going south.

Another trashy online course.

I attended a brick-and-mortar, affordable community college nursing school, and the in-person experiences with professors were invaluable to me as a student, as a practicing registered nurse and as a human being. I am finishing my bachelor of science online.

There is no teaching going on. For my online statistics class last semester, we used Pearson Education’s MyStatLab.com. No one taught me statistics; it was abysmal.

By the way: If you’re worried about what’s going to replace one professor teaching 150 independent studies every semester…

… as your university’s faculty continues to game the athlete-eligibility system (The Tragic Fates of Petee and Boxill are possibly staying your jockshop’s hand of late), do not worry. Do not waste one sporty moment worrying that a rich enterprising country like yours will be at a loss to fashion new forms of system-gaming in order to keep the quarterback on the field 24/7.

In fact, La Nouvelle Vague is already firmly in place… It’s been there, really, all the time! Like that scene at the end of The Wizard of Oz when Glinda tells Dorothy “You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.” Ever since universities discovered online courses, the eligibility problem has been solved. You yourself might have taken one or two of these in college – to pass that pesky statistics requirement without learning statistics, for instance… Some anonymous grad student drudge (or the drudge’s designated-drudge – there’s of course no way to know who’s actually giving and who’s actually taking an online course) cluttered your computer screen with messages for a few weeks, and you (or your friend who knows statistics) wrote back, and then you passed statistics.

Because online courses are profitable (you can enroll zillions of students at a time and pay the drudge or whoever doodoo), most American universities are as we speak enlarging their offerings like mad. No one’s going to notice the athlete-component of this vast enterprise.

Online is in every way a cleaner solution than independent study. There’s absolutely no messy wasteful human interaction with online, whereas under the ancien régime, Julius Nyang’oro had to meet the athletes and frat guys at least once, if only to inform them they’d never see him again. Nor is there, with online, any noticeable record of your having done the humanly impossible – conducted in one semester three traditional classroom courses plus 150 independent studies. (Petee’s downfall came when one of his colleagues for some reason got wind of his teaching schedule and found it… odd enough to report him.) With online, you can have 5,000 students in five classes and no one will look at you twice. Everyone understands that responsibility for online classes at the American university is far too diffuse and complex (tons of people have a hand in any online course: there’s the instructor, the instructor’s assistants, the on-campus tech group, the for-profit company overseeing implementation and management features, university administrators doing various forms of surveillance, etc., etc.) for anyone to understand what’s going on. Online courses have evolved to the point where they run themselves. They’re animated templates, perpetuum mobiles whose first note merely needs to be struck in order for the whole thing to beautifully play itself out.

“Incredibly aggressive marketing has been used on pretty vulnerable students.”

The globally scummy for-profit ed industry works its magic not just here in the US, but also in Australia.


UD thanks Dirk.

Twilight of the…

tax syphons.

Cheese it! The cops!

Shares of Apollo Education Group fell sharply after the market close after the company disclosed the U.S. Education Dept. plans a review of federal financial aid programs at the company’s University of Phoenix.

A whole new book about the tax syphons.

Congress, meanwhile, would occasionally hold hearings to allow elected ­officials to wring their hands over the growing scandal in for-profit higher education, but like any multibillion industry, its leading proponents answered by throwing around money in Washington. The Apollo Group (the University of Phoenix), for instance, made $11 million in political donations in 2007 and 2008, Mettler reports — about double the campaign contributions of Goldman Sachs, Time Warner and Walmart that election cycle. In her telling, John Boehner is speaker of the House largely because the for-profit colleges and private student-loan bankers gave so generously to his leadership PAC during his years as chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

(For more on America’s ongoing for-profit college scandal, click on this post’s category, CLICK-THRU U.)

“The act of typing effectively turns the note-taker into a transcription zombie, while the imperfect recordings of the pencil-pusher reflect and excite a process of integration, creating more textured and effective modes of recall.”

And no, it doesn’t matter whether students are connected to the internet during class or not. Research was done with

the laptops … not connected to the Internet. This means the results are not due to students spending time checking e-mail or surfing the Web. In most settings, such distractions will only impair performance even more. Indeed, prior research has found that laptop multitasking impairs learning and can even have negative effects on non-laptop users sitting nearby.

If you ask UD, who has been railing against classroom laptop use for years (see some of her posts here), this activity is on the face of it obviously any idiot can see plain as the nose on your face socially as well as intellectually destructive. A lot of professors – for murky reasons – have been sitting on their asses waiting for the research we all knew would come out to come out… But even with insane amounts of research confirming what anyone with common sense would have known a decade ago, plenty of professors will cleave to the laptop. Why?

(And by the way don’t even think about fully laptopped/online degree programs and their capacity to teach people anything. There’s a reason UD calls online programs cheesy.)

Well, the reasons aren’t pretty. Let’s see.

Do whatever you want! I’m afraid of you… I want a good course evaluation… The university is worried about attrition rates and has decided to give in to all of your demands… You pretend to be taking a class, and I’ll pretend to teach. This won’t put a strain on either of us… Lecturing is authoritarian. The last thing you want is some Hitlerian up here talking to you as if she has something to impart that you don’t already know or can’t find on your computer… You’re all too timid to look up from your screens and contribute to a discussion… Thank God for the laptop, which allows you to hide behind your screens and keep to yourself during class rather than be challenged in the unpleasant way of the seminar!…

And if you have a professor with a fully laptopped classroom who also depends almost exclusively on PowerPointed lectures where she (head down, monotonally) reads from each slide? Yikes.

America’s Tax Syphons: An Update

[F]or-profits entice students (particularly low-income students) with low upfront costs while offering little instructional support, thereby saddling them with large debts and few marketable skills.

…Education Management Corporation (EDMC)… was founded in 1962, and had long been reputed as one of the higher quality for-profits in an industry plagued by questionable practices. In 2006, EDMC was taken over by a private equity consortium led by Goldman Sachs along with Providence Capital Partners and Leeds Capital. Goldman and its partners installed new executives who promptly reallocated resources from instruction to marketing and recruitment.

… Total enrollment across EDMC’s brands, which include Argosy University, South University, Brown Mackie College, and the Arts Institutes, more than doubled between 2006 and 2010. By 2011, colleges in which Goldman Sachs was the dominant owner enrolled over 150,000 students, captured over $486 million in federal Pell Grant funds, and netted an operating profit of over $501 million. However, these financial successes were not mirrored in students’ outcomes: among those students enrolled in 2008, over 62 percent had withdrawn two years later without completing a degree. Yet two of EDMC’s Art Institute campuses were among the 10 for-profit colleges that that issued more than $25,000 in student loans per enrolled student in 2012.

… The takeover of the for-profit sector by investors has seen the principles and techniques of “shareholder value maximization” imported wholesale into a major segment of American higher education. This finance-driven model is very efficient at increasing enrollment and generating profits. It has a poor track record, however, when it comes to helping students successfully graduate and preparing them for a competitive labor market. Indeed, graduation rates for all four-year for-profit colleges for cohorts beginning six years earlier fell from 46 percent in 2002 to just 28 percent in 2012.


UD thanks Dirk.

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