Audience Author Anonymous
In Andrew Keen’s book Cult of the Amateur a point discussed was how culture is off balance due to the number of anonymous people making themselves the actual media. With Web 2.0 and the popularity of sites like YouTube and MySpace, people can upload and generate videos, articles, photography albums, and websites to show the world their “talent”. Keen says, “Audience and author had become one, and we were transforming culture into cacophony” (14).
I agree and submit that online degrees can be thought of in the same way. The degrees earned online do not take as much effort and therefore reward people as though they are talented. Learning through self discipline, discussion boards and multiple choice testing practices should not be compared to the education received from a university. Having a face to face opportunity to discuss ideas and ask questions are essential to learning, and a discussion board is sometimes too easily misinterpreted because of the lack of communication signals you lose online. The social skills learned at a university are more likely to be applied to everyday life and help in obtaining a job rather than your online test taking skills.
Online classes are like sending someone to jail, and he graduates as a better criminal when released. There is no real threat to having to attend class, quizzes and tests allow for cheating and teachers rarely show great interest in the class. Yet jobs are being handed out to nurses and engineers for online and university graduates, and the jobs market is war zone. Everyone takes online classes for various convenient reasons, the level of difficulty being one of them. I took one over the summer because I was out of the country, and it was frustrating to see the answers I gave in my peer’s posts moments after I submitted. The teacher made no comment to the obvious plagiarism, and allowed it to continue.
Is anything really being learned? If we are merely scanning for the information and cheating, is there an ounce of intelligence to acknowledge? No, the lack of interest by the student and teacher combined creates an unproductive waste of time and space that somehow rewards us with degrees, or transferable credits. No real knowledge is gained, no satisfaction of teaching is given and the culture does not develop or evolve new ideas.
In essence, the internet is making online students stupid. I do not think knowing how to search for the answer is worthy of a grade or submission of intellect. Knowing this, we are left with the obligation to use character judgment in order to test people’s actual expertise. A degree certificate has lost value with the addition of online schools. The quality of education has significantly suffered at the hands of these institutions, and the victims are those paying ten times as much for an education from a university. By cheapening the experience we are in turn short changing ourselves from the potential of greatness. People paying less effort and money in order to acheive a level success comes at what cost to society? The answer lies within the future, while the problem is expanding online. There are talented, smart indivduals who have graduated from online schools but the expierence needed is lacking on so many social levels that it is hard to judge who has true authorship and authority among them. Not to belittle the potential and success of online schools, enjoy this speech by Richard Baraniuk on Ted.org.