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Hire Education Fire Sale: WE ARE AT WAR

Coursera

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.

http://news.unm.edu/2013/05/unm-joins-coursera-for-online-courses/

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.

So.

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.

Yes.
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.

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About Dean RCB

Dean of Academics Lebanon College Philosophy and Integrated Liberal Arts Writer & Producer (theatre, television, film) Composer & Producer RCB lives in the Upper Valley with his wife and four boys.

27 responses to “Hire Education Fire Sale: WE ARE AT WAR

  1. Greg Eddy ⋅

    Hi, everyone there. I’m willing to realistically teach hybrid and online instructional delivery methods to anyone willing to learn, in hopes that we can decrease higher education’s dependence on fossil fuel consumption for instruction and conferencing. I hope you can join us some day. Now I think I’ll go pick some more pebbles up off of some of the mounds in the garden. 🙂

    From “The Blue Cliff Record”

    Huang Po’s Gobbler of Dregs

    Case

    Huang Po, instructing the community, said, “I’ll of you people are gobblers of dregs, if you go on travelling around this way, where will you have Today? Do you know that there are no teachers of Ch’an in all of China?”

    At that time a monk came forward and said, “Then what about all those in various places who order followers and lead communities?”

    Huang Po said, “I do not say that there is no Ch’an; it’s just that there are no teachers.”

  2. Greg Eddy ⋅

    You’d have to ask Dr. Ron. The doors are still open and the students still leave class smiling…. We’re moving more into health care, certainly a right livelihood. Take care of yourself (so you can take even better care of the world). Thank you.

  3. Greg Eddy ⋅

    “we’re Zen Buddhists”? Another typo? I didn’t know you were a Zen Buddhist. If you were, you’d know that you know nothing.

    ” empiracally?” What’s your derivation of this construction (because I don’t know)?

    Leo, sorry I can’t give more of a reply now, but I’ve got to (passively) go back to work. I have two classes to teach today. 🙂

    • Migrant Intellectual ⋅

      I’m Zen Cohen, I sit with Shiva.

      On a different note, how’s Ron Biron, Doctor of Leadership working out for Lebanon College?

  4. Greg Eddy ⋅

    “we are not officially at war” Is that a typo (maybe a Freudian typo)?

    I choose not to reify and deify (or demonize) either “Coursera” or “UNM.” May we have nothing to fear but fear itself, fear of failure (which, as we’ve seen here, leads always to new starts, “rebirths,” if you will).

    “college administrators…would have us die in our cars?” Really? Where? UNM? Is this some sort of a twisted joke (or delusionary)?

    Lots of people don’t get paid for what they work anymore. It’s a cyclical thing, though, currently reflective of the Baby Boomers who sold out and fell into the “greed is good” trap, like those characters in that 80s movie dancing drunk in the suburban kitchen singing 60s songs during their “reunion”, you remember; you know what I’m talking about (this incipient Alzheimer’s is a bummer, man)….

    Once enough people suffer from our current non-sustainable patterns, we’ll find a new economic balance (where no good deed continues to go unpunished, but that’s just human nature, dude; chill. That’s it! “The Big Chill.”)

    • Migrant Intellectual ⋅

      [m.i.] Typo. Corrected.

      I choose not to reify and deify (or demonize) either “Coursera” or “UNM.”

      [m.i.] This is precisely the attitude I’m challenging, Greg.

      May we have nothing to fear but fear itself, fear of failure (which, as we’ve seen here, leads always to new starts, “rebirths,” if you will).

      [m.i.] This is all very privileged language. I don’t follow.

      “college administrators…would have us die in our cars?” Really? Where? UNM? Is this some sort of a twisted joke (or delusionary)?

      [m.i.] at least once a term in VT/NH, threats about not driving to Keene in snowstorms? Brattleboro in blizzards? What New England do you work?

      Lots of people don’t get paid for what they work anymore. It’s a cyclical thing, though, currently reflective of the Baby Boomers who sold out and fell into the “greed is good” trap, like those characters in that 80s movie dancing drunk in the suburban kitchen singing 60s songs during their “reunion”, you remember; you know what I’m talking about (this incipient Alzheimer’s is a bummer, man)….

      [m.i.] True. but, I don’t have time to bleed — another line from another 80s movie

      Once enough people suffer from our current non-sustainable patterns, we’ll find a new economic balance (where no good deed continues to go unpunished, but that’s just human nature, dude; chill. That’s it! “The Big Chill.”)

      [m.i.] No. Honestly, Greg. Your head is shoved so far up the ass of your oppressor you’re mistaking their grumbling bowels for echoes and sounds from your own mouth.

      Furthermore, this is all very interesting coming from the lead adjunct in the Upper Valley (VT/NH) who single-handedly gobbled up face to face and online courses faster and more readily than anyone I worked with 2005-2011 — someone whose very career is also directly dependent on the perpetuation of this gross inequity, immorality, and violence call contingency.

      Truth is rarely pure and never simple. — Oscar Wilde

      • Greg Eddy ⋅

        Not really worth a reply (as readers couldn’t hear the muffled message through the crap I’m breathing, apparently). Who’s this “lead adjunct?” I didn’t start adjuncting again until last summer (after a couple of years in the mid-90s). I’ve had a full 30+ years career and am on far leeward side of it now. Seems delusionary still…. No-one sane “shrugs off exploitation.” I’m doing what I do now, not for the money (as I don’t need to currently make a living wage), but for the students. Yes, I’m privileged to be able to do it. Yes, I bemoan (as I have elsewhere at this site) the fact that higher education is now in the process of losing a generation of professors. More’s the shame and pity. I didn’t start the fire, though. Nor do I fan it with incendiary rhetoric. To do so would actually poison my own teaching and the benefit students may receive from it, I believe. You can believe what you want, too. It’s a great country. Life’s too short to be agitated. Before you know it, yours will be over…. Then what?

      • Migrant Intellectual ⋅

        And now we’ve added passive aggressive to elitist and complicit (e.g., I’m above responding to your ghastly rhetoric but I’m not going to apply that teaching to an erratic reply)

        Greg — you do understand that some of the greatest warriors in the history of humans living on earth we’re Zen Buddhists too, right?

        I am not using incendiary rhetoric in the face of physical aggression over the livelihoods of fellow adjunsts here and far. No. Even if I agreed, rhetoric or polemic (to be more accurate) would still stand as the least of our problems. Furthermore, it’s not incendiary to name an action in a way that precisely and empiracally described as an invasion (that already happened).

        Just keep chanting and detaching from the world that burns around you and because of you. I am sure there is a pithy koan you can offer that will bring back friends and family who’ve lost everything supporting a system that violently pivoted toward corporate about four or five years ago.

    • “Lots of people don’t get paid for what they work anymore. It’s a cyclical thing, though,…”

      And your point is? That observation makes it neither morally right nor workable. If you’re shrugging off the exploitation of others, you might be one of the Bosses–or their lapdog.

      • Greg sez: “I’m doing what I do now, not for the money (as I don’t need to currently make a living wage), but for the students. Yes, I’m privileged to be able to do it. Yes, I bemoan (as I have elsewhere at this site) the fact that higher education is now in the process of losing a generation of professors. More’s the shame and pity. I didn’t start the fire, though. Nor do I fan it with incendiary rhetoric.”

        Thanks for being complicit in that loss, and for helping to make it possible with that privileged position you’re in. I give a shit about my students too, but I don’t think the best way to help them is to make it easy for the administration, which does NOT care about them, to give them stressed out, exhausted, starving teachers who aren’t at their best. You’re a drop in the bucket too, Quixote. How much good to you think your passivity is doing?

      • Greg Eddy ⋅

        From “The Gateless Barrier: Zen Comments on the Mumonkan”

        Kyogen’s Man Up a Tree

        Koan

        Master Kyogen said, “It is like a man up a tree who hangs from a branch by his mouth; his hands cannot grasp a bough, his feet cannot touch the tree. Another man comes under the tree and asks him the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the West. If he does not answer, he does not meet the questioner’s need. If he answers, he will lose his life. At such a time, how should he answer?”
        There’s no “correct,” one good answer

      • Migrant Intellectual ⋅

        How we are applying these teachings are RADICALLY different but this is a video Gregg shared back in December when I returned to the blog, to more active activism.

        Namaste,
        Robert “ZenCohen/ZenNasty” Baum

  5. Hire Education? Do you mean Higher? Liking your passion and message, wanting to repost, but makes no sense.

    • rcbmmb052696 ⋅

      Think about the play between “hire” and “higher” and you’ll see how it “plays” within the context of a piece about for-profit mercenaries living amongst us. I’ll add a slash. To be even more annoyingly postmodern. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Greg Eddy ⋅

        This is neither continental polemics nor classical rhetoric, but 21st century Sci-Fi (with caps and a hyphen, to make it postmodern). Syndicalism died with Emma Goldman and the labor movement was co-opted by the New Left (of which you’re a part, with your bourgeois aspirations and ideals, urging students at community colleges to the ramparts) 50-some years ago on the streets of Paris (Clinton iced that cake here). None of us are Molly Maguires, nor will we ever be with current surveillance policies and procedures with which you’re complicit, all that social media you play with, thinking you’re Neil Postman in the “teaching as a subversive activity” days, instead of being a true black hat or Wiki-leaker which would give you credibility). “Sorry” to burst your bubble. Get real. 🙂

      • I feel sorry for Greg Eddy, trying to imagine how it would be to live so “realistically” (translation: without hope) and putting on a game face about it. No, this is not the best of all possible worlds. So quit lecturing and get back to work pushing that damn rock up the hill…yes, again and as often as it takes.

        ________________________________

      • Migrant Intellectual ⋅

        I must be WAYYYY off Greg.
        Just a twittler. A memer. Ineffective. And alone.

        http://inthesetimes.com/article/15080/mad_professors/

  6. Pingback: MOOC my day | MOOC Madness

  7. re-blogged to wrong WP (too damn many blogs) but sent to A is for Adjunct and a Tumblr, adding to existing ‘MOOC my day’ Storify. see also Jonathon Rees’ http://moreorlessbunk.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/this-fabulous-bandwagon/

  8. AHA, it works! YES, get ready, set FIRE! Ready to strike, go! AGITATE!

  9. Will this work this time? Let me try first, then I will answer if it does 😉

  10. Lock and load, my friends. Agitate, Educate, Organize. Fight back. No software program or video stream can teach what we know.

  11. 1985, The Sequel?

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