Hire Education Fire Sale: WE ARE AT WAR


Threat assessment: highest possible “Severe” level

This is a Fire Sale my friends, brought to you by the (for) hire/higher educators.

As though pulled right from Orwell’s 1984, COURSERA is the latest front in the propaganda wars between corporate online course providers and cash-strapped colleges and universities.


As with most wars, those who tried their hardest to head off the flash points or warn of the invasion, those who tried to sound the alarm are just too tired, too cash-strapped themselves to mount a resistance. The “shock and awe” of decades of labor abuse, systemic negligence, and budgetary malfesance has (supposedly) left state colleges and universities with no choice but to outsource their courses to online customer service providers who first entered higher education under the radar as “tutors” and then as “moodle” and “module” designers — those “instructional designers” from Capella, Phoenix, and other questionable degree granting institutions.

Now, despite the efforts of legion after legion of first responders–administrators and faculty alike–the threat is now an occupation force the size and power of which none of us have known.


Do you understand this threat? No. You don’t.
Do you understand how to meet this threat head to head? No. You haven’t so far, so why start now?
Do you understand how to even recognize a threat? No. Not at all.

I’m sorry to say this, in fact it saddens me to say what I need to say, but we are now officially at war.

COURSERA is the benevolent imperial Father who has stepped in to bring order to the unruly masses; they are here to teach us how to do business, to be more efficient, to become the best we can be at “best practices.”

COURSERA is that for-profit new administrator you knew would be trouble someday, with his or her talk of “instructional design” and “universality” and “andragogy” which sounds like a drafted name J. R. R. Tolkein edited out in favor of Balrog.

You thought, there’s no way college higher ups would be so stupid as to invite in a trojan horse but then you remembered that these administrators took classics off the curriculum decades ago. COURSERA is the WalMart — the WalSmart and SuperMartMart EDU — nightmare we have all been anticipating for decades.

Well, here they are.
In fact, they are already here.
Like War of hte Worlds or Pacific Rim.
These alien hordes have been dormant for a very long time.
Just waiting to strike when we’re at our weakest.
Right when we’ve handed in our grades.
The last days of the second quarter of the tax year.
When faculty go on break.
When adjuncts start scrambling for food, jobs, and Fall work.
All too busy.
All too distracted.
All too tired.

But, that’s not what’s going to happen this time, is it?

We’re already mobilizing against college administrators who’d rather have us die in our cars on dangerous roads during snowstorms because they “don’t want to keep the college open another week.” We’re already mobilizing against full time faculty who dare to call us lazy or unaccomplished or contingent to the needs of the department. Go to hell. There. I said it. Go. To. Hell.

We’re already mobilizing against sell outs like the Adjunct Project and Chronicle of Higher Education, those who dared to speak on our behalf at national conferences only to find themselves believing their own press and mistaking the sound of applause for a job well done rather than a journey just started. Yes, I am talking directly to you Michael Berube and Josh Boldt. You’ve both been surprisingly silent in the final days of the invasion. I wonder what place at the table you’ve been promised in the new world order.

That’s okay.
No rush.

I wonder how many adjuncts will die this summer from lack of affordable health care.
I wonder how many families will break up because they will make the mistake (like we almost did in 2004) to believe that splitting up and taking on different jobs in different regions, maybe even filing for divorce, would solve the problem WHEN THE ONLY SOLUTION IS FOR COLLEGES TO PAY THEIR WORKERS THE HOURS THEY WORK AND TO MEET THEIR OBLIGATIONS TO THE FACULTY WHO TEACH THIS GENERATION — this wonderful, resilient, powerful, beautiful generation — OF TRADITIONAL AND NON TRADITIONAL STUDENTS.

I am pissed.
I am happy to be pissed.
I am pissed that it took me this long to get this fired up.
I am seeing things clearly again.

We have been invaded.
We were sold out.
We knew that would happen.

But we didn’t see this coming.
The very system of our potential liberation or at least sustenance — MOOCS — have now been reprogrammed to kill the very systems that created them in the first place.

Like Live Free and Die Hard we were led to believe that a terrorist threat of 911 proportions, a threat from the outside, was how we would lose our freedoms and our country. But, as with that film, higher education–the last territory in the corporatist take over of all American industries–is now the subject of a massive fire sale.

We are at war.