wk 17 A1b: Digital diploma mills

The following questions are based on the 1998 paper Digital Diploma Mills by David Noble

1. What does Noble see as the motive forces behind the introduction of new technologies in university?

In his rant Nobel appears to suggest that the introduction of new technologies is seen as a cheep way to offer low quality teaching so funding can be diverted to financialy lucrative reserch.

2. Why does he use the term diploma mill to describe the changes?

“In his classic 1959 study of diploma mills for the American Council on Education, Robert Reid described the typical diploma mill as having the following characteristics: “no classrooms,” “faculties are often untrained or nonexistent,” and “the officers are unethical self-seekers whose qualifications are no better than their offerings.”

3. Do you think these dire predictions made in 1998 were born out in the following years?

Some of the predictions can be argued to have come true. The development of ItunesU and other repositories of educational video and audio content could be seen in the following prediction; “In the future,” Utah governor Mike Leavitt proclaimed, “an institution of higher education will become a little like a local television station.” However this is usually as a responce to resquests and expectations of learners, both distance and campus based. The follwong prediction refers to the teaching staff as labor; “As in other industries, the technology is being deployed by management primarily to discipline, de-skill, and displace labor.” It is true that current teaching staff require different skills than their predicesors, in order to make best use of the resources avalable, but this is more re-skilling than de-skilling.


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