Bad news

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Kizmet, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  2. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Whoa . . . From the headline, my first thought was to wonder who died this time. For the regulars here, I did take a moment to check the latest news and found that there are still no obituaries on Abner or Kim Ivora, nor any new news on Ted or the Heiks family. But I digress . . .

    As most DI'ers know, I've been laughing my ass off at online programs for a number of years. Some have wondered why I hang out at DI since I'm against online programs, some have presumed that since I earned my degrees nontraditionally that I must have at least one online degree (not true - I earned all of my degrees before online programs existed, and those who automatically assume that nontraditional means online are naïve).

    While I've never been particularly impressed wit Derek Newton's writing in Forbes, however, I don't call his latest contribution bad news at all. If anything, I call it a vindication of my own position on things that are online. And once again, I laugh my ass off at everyone who pursues totally online degrees. Because Newton reaffirms my notion that all of you are inferior to me. Yes, y'all know it's true, so you may as well give in and accept the notion that I am superior to you, that I am smarter than you, and that I am intrinsically better than you. In a way, I feel bad for you since y'all will never measure up to me. Quel dommage.

    Ah, well . . . excuse me while I go and laugh at you. Each and every one of you.

    Of course, you all realize, of course, that I'm joking as usual. Or am I? :p
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    There is no good reason for online courses to be inferior. But there are reasons.

    (NB: I recently completed the Professional Certificate in Online Education at the University of Wisconsin--Madison.)

    The absolute number one, no kidding, really true reason that online learning sucks is that many schools try to stuff their classroom-based learning into an online environment. As opposed to developing and delivering instruction specifically designed for the online environment.

    But what does that mean?

    I earlier posted a thread about the essential difference between pedagogy and andragogy. So here we go again.

    Online learning must be facilitated, not "taught." That's why it's better for adults, not teenagers. But many schools simply use the same methods--and (sadly) the same faculty--to stuff it into an online delivery format.

    I work in a virtual world. Almost all of my business meetings take place virtually--by phone, e-mail, or synchronous video (e.g. Zoom). Instruction can take place there, too, if the school (and the instructor) is willing to set expectations, provide support, and let go.
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  4. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    The article demonstrates nothing of the sort. Honestly, this is one of the most poorly written and intellectually dishonest pieces I've read on education in quite some time.

    The only thing "measured" was a tally of opinions, favorable or unfavorable, and the writer presumes that that somehow serves as the smoking gun that his own opinion is correct. What the study found was that professors who never taught online classes were less likely to view online education favorably. K. The author claims that it's those with online teaching experience whose opinion should be taken with caution due to their self-interest, as opposed to the other way around.

    Quick question: who would be in a better position to say whether online courses have equal merit to that of in-person classes? Those who have taught only one of these types, or those who have taught both?

    Other than appealing to the baseless opinions of others to confirm his own baseless opinion, he only offers one piece of evidence in the form of a citation. A citation of another article written by... (wait for it) HIMSELF.

    So, of course, I went to read that one as well. If you read the first article, you probably have a good idea of what happens in the second article. Thankfully, this time there are a few more citations of external sources, but none that actually prove the point that he is making, and he weaves in an out of misrepresentation and sweeping generalization.

    It's safe to say that this guy is either an extremely lazy or extremely poorly trained journalist. Or both. It's also safe to say that it wasn't an online college that taught him how to be that way. Maybe we should look into his own educational history to find what complete joke of a brick-and-mortar school taught him how to write and think so terribly.

    Did any of the non-online classes you took teach you to feel vindicated when someone, somewhere, anywhere, agreed with your opinion? Even if that person did an embarrassingly bad job of it?
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
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  5. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Bravo, MC. You’re obviously onto something that has passed by most of our ignorant masases here at DI: namely, that the writer of the Forbes piece is an idiot. Having said that, however, I note that his articles have been cited in multiple OP’s by Kizmet here on DI.

    Let’s look at this guy’s self-written bio:

    I write about education including education technology (edtech) and higher education. I've written about these topics and others in a variety of outlets including The Atlantic, Quartz and The Huffington Post. I served as vice-president at The Century Foundation, a public policy think tank with an emphasis on education and worked for an international education nonprofit teaching entrepreneurship. I also served as a speech writer for a governor of Florida, worked in the Florida legislature and attended Columbia University in New York City. I'm a member of the Education Writers Association.​

    Does anything stand out to anyone here? Or is everyone’s head up their posterior ends? (Yes, I’m being intentionally sarcastic. Why? Because it’s fun.)

    Notwithstanding that his publication credentials are very mickey mouse, note that he writes that he “attended Columbia University in New York City.”

    So, whadda y’all think? That he has a degree from Columbia? I submit that anyone who actually graduated would write, “I earned my ______ at Columbia,” not “I attended Columbia.” In other words, and I wouldn’t make a conclusion one way or the other, the guy appears to be coming off as a college dropout.

    He is clearly a freelance writer whose only credible statement is that he has written for The Atlantic. But: written what? One article? I've made the same claim about a few publications but, in fact, I only wrote for them once. And it was often only a one or two-page article, as I recall. As for Quartz, I never heard of it. And as for The Huffington Post, it’s nothing more than a blog rag.

    Y’all see? You have to read everything with discernment. You have to look not only at what is being said, but also what is not being said.

    More than once, Derek Newton has impressed me as a bullshit writer. But he’s not the only one to blame in having this tripe published – you also have to blame the editors and publishers at Forbes, whose heads are up their own posterior ends when it comes to knowledge of higher education. Moreover, even in his short bio above, his punctuation sucks eggs, and the fact that it is as bad as that is also the fault of his editors.
    Alright, you caught me. Yes, I was joking when I wrote the earlier post.

    But don’t get me wrong – I truly do think that online degrees, at least at the graduate level, are mickey mouse. But ultimately, that is my opinion – nothing more, nothing less. I don’t try to back it up with data, and couldn’t be bothered one way or the other.

    In the end run, to be honest, I don’t really give a crap about this stuff. As noted elsewhere, I earned my degrees almost three decades ago (before online degrees existed) and have watched the higher education system go down the tubes in a number of ways over the past several years (with notable exceptions, of course). I wish the best for everyone, but when they do screw up with poor decisions, I’ll be the first to have a laugh over it. I guess I’m just that kind of guy. :D
  6. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

  7. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    I will argue that an online degree is as good as on-campus B&M classes. I don't see eye to eye with Steve or others. The on-line degree depends on the method of delivery, level of interaction and motivation of the student to succeed. There are on-campus "crappy" classes and the same online and there are on campus great classes and online as well.
    On line classes delivered with team assignments and collaboration, interactive meetings and study guides are pretty good. The ability to review recorded lectures as many times as needed is fantastic. But a few rotten apples can spoil the barrel. I understand if one is learning applied disciplines, that require hands-on clinical classes etc here obviously one better be in the hands-on setting with an experienced instructor in a medical facility setting or similar at University hospital or classes in chemistry lab etc.

    In general some questions to ask:
    • How much time do I have to dedicate to school?
    • Can I quit my current job to go to school?
    • What majors I interested in and which schools offer those programs?
    • How are the schools offering the programs ranked?
    • Which locations can I realistically consider?
    According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), online colleges are now more popular than ever with nearly 2.6 million students attending college exclusively online, which is about 13 percent of college students overall.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
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  8. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    There's nothing troubling about his "findings." Online education is here to stay. So, for all the dinosaurs that have a problem with online education, you better be prepared to have your little hearts broken because online education isn't going anywhere. Even Ivy League schools have caught on. Online education is the fastest-growing component of higher education. While campus enrollments are down at many schools, online enrollments continue to grow.

    Btw, that Derek Newton doesn't even seem to have a degree. I noticed that in his bio he stated that he "attended" Columbia. His LinkedIn only lists Columbia with no years of attendance or any degree or field of study. I couldn't find any website where a degree was listed for him. My conclusion is that he dropped out of a traditional degree program. Maybe he should have tried the "inferior" online mode! :D
  9. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    In one of the online Engineering classes that I took at Delft Technological University, my team members were around the USA and the globe. We used collaboration tools such as Github, we worked on projects and collaborated among our team and other teams in different time zones and countries. Delivered a successful geographically distributed agile project and much more.
    All this while I was working full time. The online proctoring is so rigorous, a camera with mic at a specific angle that allows the proctor to see the desk, keyboard, etc. The session is recorded, ID verified and before exam strict rules about the surrounding area, no other items on the table, or posters on the walls, etc. I think the material and the lectures are really well prepared. Great learning experience. I compare the evening classes I took on campus at a leading university in the US. The lectures were really good, work assignments and projects were also in teams and individuals. Professor was very responsive to questions and always allowed time for questions, I was getting home at 11 PM and driving to university on the evenings straight after work, that meant additional 2.5 hours just for the commute, additional expenses on fuel and parking. The wife had to deal with kids alone on those days and her with kids missing me. On days that I didn't have evening classes I had homework that required hours each day and on the weekend.
    Then my job required some travel that was basically impossible. So for me, online quality education meant a lot. I'm not comparing to my early years in life were I spent 5 years in a regional traditional university.
    In my profession, I have to renew and update my skills constantly. And I'm sure you can get similar testimonies from many others.
    My friend who was a field engineer with AS degree and traveling 80% of the time completed his BS degree at TESC in the 90s and his MBA at UofP. He moved to the position of District manager, Regional manager, and National manager. Eventually, he moved to another company for an EVP position. I'm sure online is here to stay and will become even better with years.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
  10. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I also post articles on aliens and the Illuminati. That doesn't mean I agree with them (or does it?) I rarely pay any attention to who writes the articles I post or even if I agree with their conclusions. I post articles that I think will be of interest and that might stimulate discussion. I'm happy to see that in this case I've succeeded. As for the general topic I'd say that Rick has made a good point. Trying to jam a classroom based style/curriculum into an online format is bound to go bad. I'd also say that MC has made a good point in that what is being measured is attitudes and people whose attitudes are being measured might have a built in bias. That by itself is interesting . . . thinking that your online instructor would much rather be standing at the front of a lecture hall than sitting in front of a laptop. C'est dommage. Such disappointment. Shattered dream of tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows. OK BOOMER!
  11. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly

    Forbes allows just about anyone to blog using its name, but doesn't allow comments, and he didn't tweet about having written this miserable hit piece so there's nowhere to complain about it where he would actually see it. Oh well.
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  12. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    FWIW, I've taken online courses and traditional courses. I've gone to non-profit schools, for-profit schools and public schools. I've had exceptional online experiences and I've had crappy ones. I've had exceptional butt-in-seat experiences and I've had crappy ones.

    One of my favorite psych professors at Scranton, in retrospect, wasn't particularly good at teaching psychology. I liked her as a person. But most of our classes were spent with her telling war stories from her private practice. Fun as that was, it wasn't teaching us psych. I took one undergraduate business course at Scranton while I was there, Small Business Management. The professor had never run a small business. While, academically, it was solid he was incredibly dismissive of why some small businesses fail. Basically, to him there was a small business playbook and if you did it like he said, you would succeed.

    Scranton redeemed itself for me with my MBA coursework. My economics prof, especially, rocked. I learned a ton. The course was rigorous but engaging. I would put it in my pantheon of successful online courses along with an accounting course I took at CTU with a VP of Accounting at a major company. Super helpful.

    While I don't really like cookie cutter courses, I do like courses to be reasonably consistent. That's one area where I feel online learning has really helped things out. You can't scale shooting from the hip up to an online audience.

    Again, at Scranton, me and a friend both took the required Intro to Church History course. I spent a semester slaving over the writings of Augustine and John Christostom for a level 100 class. My buddy read The Hobbit, the professor's theory was that "you need to read good books to build good academic skills," and had to write a reflection paper on Natural Family Planning after listening to two guest speakers. His prof didn't even pretend to crack into church history. Yet, our transcripts reflect the same experience. That's a problem that has existed in higher ed for as long as there has been higher ed. So the issue goes well beyond B&M vs online, IMO.
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  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I've taught both. Earlier this year I completed the Professional Certificate in Online Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in online learning, so I'm pretty up-to-date on this stuff.

    The best online classes do not imitate FTF classes. Instead, they build unique learning experiences to leverage the learning platform, not in spite of it. Also, when learners own their learning and "instructors" are facilitators of that learning, it is a much better experience for all.

    BTW, the way learning is measured in online classes is pretty much the same as FTF classes, so I don't know what the complaint about quality is all about. The only difference I've seen is that online classes tend towards smaller and more frequent learning checks (formative evaluations) along the way. But the final projects (summative evaluations), papers, even presentations still look pretty much the same.
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  14. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Interesting . . . I didn’t think much about this post when Kizmet wrote it, although I have to admit that I never heard of the expression “OK BOOMER.”

    Until now, when I caught an article about its origin at It said, among other things, “A popular view among their detractors is that baby boomers came into adulthood at a time of relative prosperity and opportunity when college was cheap, housing was affordable and the country had a robust social safety net.”

    And, I thought, damn right. Granted, it was 30-something years ago, but I was able to pull off my entire B.A. for less than $3,000 from TESC, the base tuition for my M.A. at then-Vermont College of Norwich University was $5,800 for the whole ball of wax, and I probably spent less than $30,000, including all books and travel expenses, for my Ph.D. from Union. I paid out of pocket for all of them, and never had, let alone got stuck with, student loans.

    Now, it seems that today’s millennials and Gen Z’ers resent that we boomers were able to do that, and that we didn’t make things easier for them.

    To which I say: Tough noogies. Indeed, I don’t give a crap about today’s millennials or Gen Z’ers who whine, “OK Boomer.” The fact is, the only thing I can think of that I have not accomplished in life is that I have not yet tried any of the chicken fillet sandwiches that are causing such ridiculous reactions at Popeye’s or Chick Fil-A. But you can bet that if I ever do get around to that, I want to make sure that there are poverty-stricken millennials behind the counter to make them for me. That way, when I get my chicken sandwich, I can think, “So this is what you went to college for, huh?”

    Yep, it’s lots of fun being a boomer. It makes it easier to laugh when people come to DI looking for cheap, fast, and easy degrees and whining about the high cost of education. Hey, I’ve already got my degrees, and I paid cash for them. And as I’ve said in the past, I got them cheap, fast, and easy without even trying.

    Today, for example, I looked at the capstone requirements of the Big 3. I never really knew what a capstone was, since at the time I graduated TESC they didn’t exist. (Instead, at TESC we had the PGC, or pre-graduation conference, which was essentially a final oral comp. It wasn’t necessarily easy, but it was nowhere near the hassle that a capstone appears to be. They got rid of the PGC requirement many years ago, but before they put in the capstone requirement they have today.)

    But I digress. After all, it’s lots of fun to read some of the whiny messages people post on the higher education forums, especially when they obviously live in their fantasy worlds. In my generation, fantasies came true, and fantasies were reality. I’ll trade for those days in a heartbeat.

    As for today’s generation of whiners, ask me if I give a crap. Better yet, don’t ask me – I would consider the question rhetorical. So, for those who may want to respond to this, “OK Boomer,” as always, I laugh at you.

    By the way, Kiz, thanks for the fond memory. Yes, when I taught, I did, in fact, have a tweed jacket with elbow patches. And a corduroy jacket which I exclusively wore with jeans, and a camel hair jacket. And I was, in fact, standing in front of a lecture hall (as well as a standard classroom) – for teaching, it sure as hell beats sitting in front of a laptop. Today’s online crowd that has teacher fantasies has gotten the reality check that they are, at best, facilitators – not teachers, and certainly not professors.
  15. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    This is probably the most ignorant comment I've read in a long time. Steve, you've been on this forum since the "devil" was a boy and you only have 113 likes. That's indicative of the volume of trash you post on here. But, hey, I don't take you too seriously!
  16. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Chris. It's nice to know that I haven't lost my touch. But I hardly think it's the most ignorant comment I've made, unless perhaps you're sensitive about being a millennial. You are, of course, correct in not taking me seriously (although you apparently took me seriously enough to comment in the first place).

    One thing I've always been open about is that I love tasteless humor. Especially with a touch of schadenfreude. Nothing is off limits, including bombings, mass shootings, natural disasters, airplanes flying into buildings, or Michael Che joking about Bruce Jenner. (I do stay away from politics, however - Washington is enough of a joke that it can be funny without me.)

    P.S. You're counting the number of "likes" I have had? "Likes" have never meant anything to me - in fact, I have never "liked" a post on this or any other forum. They either stand or fall on their own.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
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  17. tadj

    tadj Active Member


    I can appreciate some of that tasteless humor. I am a Polish-Canadian millennial and I don't get offended that easily. That said, I probably wouldn't get excited upon seeing highly educated and poverty-stricken girls behind the chicken sandwich counter. That doesn't sound like a great pattern for America's future. Also, it is good to try to understand the specific challenges of each generation, even as you poke fun at some of the eccentric behavior.
  18. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    To be fair, likes didn't come into existence on this site until Levicoff was about 130 years old.
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  19. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Quite true. But I hate to think where that would put John Bear, who has at least 15 years on me.

    Of course, I wish John continued good health - as long as he is alive and well, I am absolved of any responsibility to act like an elder statesman. Indeed, once John has moved on to the next plane of existence, I move that the title of elder statesman bypass me and go directly to Doctor Doctor Douglas.
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  20. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Is that so? Then obviously, Maniac, you have not been following my posts.:)
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