Digital Diploma Mills: The Automation of Higher Eduction

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Is the Internet the springboard which will take universities into a new age, or a threat to their existence? Will dotcom degrees create new opportunities for those previously excluded, or lead them into a digital dead-end? From UCLA to Columbia, digital technologies have brought about rapid and sweeping changes in the life of the university-changes which will have momentous effects in the decade ahead.

In the first book-length analysis of the meaning of the Internet for the ...

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Overview

Is the Internet the springboard which will take universities into a new age, or a threat to their existence? Will dotcom degrees create new opportunities for those previously excluded, or lead them into a digital dead-end? From UCLA to Columbia, digital technologies have brought about rapid and sweeping changes in the life of the university-changes which will have momentous effects in the decade ahead.

In the first book-length analysis of the meaning of the Internet for the future of higher education, Noble cuts through the rhetorical claims that these developments will bring benefits for all. His analysis shows how university teachers are losing control over what they teach, how they teach and for what purpose. It shows how erosion of their intellectual property rights makes academic employment ever less secure. The academic workforce is reconfigured as administrators claim ownership of the course-designs and teaching materials developed by faculty, and try to lower labor costs in the marketing and delivery of courses.

Rather than new opportunities for students the online university represents new opportunities for investors to profit while shifting the burden of paying for education from the public purse to the individual consumer-who increasingly has to work long hours at poorly-paid jobs in order to afford the privilege. And this transformation of higher education is often brought about through secretive agreements between corporations and universities-including many which rely on public funding.

Noble locates recent developments within a longer-term historical perspective, drawing out parallels between Internet education and the correspondence course movement of the early decades of the 20th century. This timely work by the foremost commentator of the social meaning of digital education is essential reading for all who are concerned with the future of the academic enterprise.

Author Biography: David F. Noble teaches history at York University in Toronto. He is the author of America by Design, Forces of Production, and The Religion of Technology.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Arguing that on-line education is taking control of curricula and intellectual freedom away from teachers, Noble (history, York U., Canada) suggests that the growth of on-line education should be seen as an "automation of higher education," similar in effect to the automation of other industries in its impact on workers and work product quality. The process is part of the ongoing commercialization and corporatization of higher education, in which profits come before students and teachers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

“David Noble's Digital Diploma Mills is a work of extraordinary importance and deserves the attention of everyone who is concerned with the future of higher education, social inequality, and democracy. Written in a clear, accessible, and to-the-point style, that makes it a real page-turner.”
-Robert W. McChesney,author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times

“David Noble’s critique of technology has never been more forceful-or more usable for faculty-than in his writing on distance education. This collection of his ideas is a succinct and brilliantly pointed antidote to cyber hype. Most of all, its force derives from a passionate attachment to the notion of education as a vital human compact between individual, in-the-flesh students and teachers.”
-Mary Burgan,American Association of University Professors

“David Noble spells out the meaning of the automation of higher education in terms of academic freedom, civic values, and the distortions of research, curriculum and tuition on campus. Noble knows more than anyone about the growing struggle by faculty and students in North America against these erosions. Digital Diploma Millsis a wake-up call to millions of teachers, students, and parents about the battle over an under-publicized but big assault on quality education and intellectual freedom.”
-Ralph Nader

,

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583670613
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2001
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

David F. Noble teaches history at York University in Toronto. His previous books include America by Design, Forces of Production, and The Religion of Technology.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1 Lessons from the Pre-Digital Age: The Correspondence Education Movement 1
2 The Coming of the Online University 25
3 The Battle over Intellectual Property Rights 37
4 The Bloom is Off the Rose 50
5 Fool's Gold: Confronting Reality at UCLA 61
6 Calling In the Cavalry: Defense Dollars and the Future of Higher Education 83
Afterword: After September 11 93
App Business Goes Back to College 96
Index 111
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