Corporatization of higher education – a BlackBoard or a WhiteWall?

So, BlackBoard has partnered with K12 to sell online courses for remediation in higher ed. That’s right…SELL online courses for remediation in HIGHER ED:

The companies say their plan will offer a new way for students who lack basic skills to get caught up. Blackboard would sell online courses that are designed and taught by employees of K12. The courses would be delivered on the Blackboard course-management system. It is the first time that the company has sold full courses, rather than just software to deliver them.

A “new way”? Really? Maybe not…….k12 has been offering online educational content for free for some time at many public online schools across the country. What is the fate of those free courses?

As a wise man once said:

In many ways we cannot, nor should we , separate out the push for a kind of psychological warfare to maintain control over a radically changed market—whether it be music, film, or even the comparatively small and paltry LMSs—so that they can charge an arm and a leg for services and resources we can get for far cheaper, if not nothing, in the open web. It appalls me that institutions constantly return to arguments of convenience, simplicity, integration, single sign-on, etc., miss the boat entirely—what BlackBoard is about is relentlessly reviving a model that is moribund, but not through innovation and radical new possibilities for learning, but through a disingenuous sense of providing access, when all they are really after is taking what was already open and locking it behind a proprietary pay wall.

Which only makes me think of:

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7 Responses to Corporatization of higher education – a BlackBoard or a WhiteWall?

  1. elinda9 says:

    I think that selling K12 remediation courses is probably an intention to sell courseware, which does use expensive teacher time but rather programmed instruction.

    Blackboard will be selling software. Is it corporatization of higher ed or of primary/secondary ed.

    Sadly, programmed teaching is mostly how schools function: teachers lecture, assign homework, grade homework, give exams, grade exams and voila! a year of “schooling”, but not learning. The class is the box is a model of teaching reflective of behaviorist and cognitivist learning theory.

    I don’t blame teachers, who would really in most cases like to have kids in their classrooms learn.

    The metaphor of “Blackboard” or whiteboard however, use online to preserve the old transmission methods, theories and pedagogies. But there are new options coming out!

    • @elinda9 I disagree, the use of an CMS does not necessitate “programmed instruction”. For example, many instructors have students view/read/utilize material online and then use traditional class time to work through that material. In essence, they are extending the amount of face time with their students by actually discussing material that they would have traditionally presented in lecture.

      I have utilized this method for instruction in higher-ed and it is very effective. The students have come away with a deeper understanding of the material because instead of just listening to a lecture, we are actually discussing the material.

  2. elinda9 says:

    Ouch! Sorry…made an error above.

    First sentence to read:

    I think that selling K12 remediation courses is probably an intention to sell courseware, which does NOT use expensive (effective) teacher time but rather programmed instruction.

    • @elinda9- in higher ed, remedial courses are more of a necessity than they should be. However, the fact that they are already free from k12 and are now being moved to a pay based system is worrisome.

      I don’t really understand your POV, however. In your blog, you seem quite interested in the usage of technology in education, but in the comments you have made in mine, you are against it.

      • elinda9 says:

        I am, as you note, not against technology in education, since I view learning as organically and civilizationally linked to technologies: speech, writing, printing, internet. And this is linked to my field of research, writing and teaching.

        However, I do distinguish among different technologies and the theory of learning that each technology implicitly supports. In today’s world, the introduction of the internet and then web has enabled a variety of pedagogies to be transferred online. SO there is no one thing represented by the term online education: rather the entire spectrum from behaviorist pedagogies (courseware), to cognitivist (CAI, learning objects, AI) to constructivist (mindtools, logo) to knowledge building environments.
        And my POV is that as educators we must be aware of the importance of the learning theory/pedagogy that a technology supports or imposes.

        It sounds to me like you are using an inherently transmission-based technology to serve as a launching pad for a f2f discussion (courseware+collaborative learning?). That is, imho, an advanced and positive use. However, many/most educators do not appreciate the differences between transmission technologies (podcasts, f2f or online lectures, cbt, videoconferencing) and those technologies which facilitate collaborative, knowledge building pedagogies.

        That was the context of my earlier remarks.
        Being new to this blog software, I am clumsy in writing my comments (and still am), as I learn to navigate around. And so far I do not like the use of blogs for discussions.

        I am not certain what you mean by “CMS”–computer-mediated system-or is that a typo for LMS? (as one who has committed a number of typos here, I am sympathetic). People use so many different terms for varieties of online education, I find it is important to check .

        The very term LMS is contradictory as it is often used to refer to systems that support forums but no ‘management system”. LMS historically came from systems designed specifically for administration applications, and then for some reason the term was applied as well to courseware systems. Now, some people continue to use that term for online systems that feature discussion forums (webct, moodle, etc). I think that Blackboard was initially designed only for university administrative applications—not so? Anyway, I do not myself use the term LMS because it is conceptually weird, I think.

        You seem to be primarily concerned about what you call ‘corporatization of HE’. My particular concern, on the other hand, is about the current state of HE and the poverty of pedagogy and sorry state of learning (by both profs and students) in HE.
        My take on corporatization is that it is kind of a red herring. If profs would focus on collaborative learning and knowledge building, then profs would not be so vulnerable to being replaced by software, ta’s, or robots (recently shown on CNN and trumpeted across headlines in north america) which do TRANSMIT information rather than cultivate learning.

        Frankly, there is nothing more boring or anti-learning than lectures—but profs cling to this behaviorist pedagogy and then cry the blues when new, albeit equally crummy but far cheaper tools threaten to replace them. its time for professors to actively become part of the knowledge community and engage their students as apprentices to that knowledge community.

        (btw, I think that most online educational technologies or learning environments are pretty ghastly; but then again, no worse than most pedagogies used in universities all around us.)

        That’s my POV (which I translate as meaning my point of view, right?)

        I look forward to your comments. I am also interested in whether you use WORD PRESS for online teaching and learning, and if so, your opinions on what you like about this system and what drawbacks you have encountered.


  3. It’s interesting to see this combination of commercial content with pre-existing CMS. Helps make the latter more sticky.

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