Re: Beyond these walls...

Steve Krause (krause@MIND.NET)
Sun, 29 Sep 1996 09:46:50 -0700


I think you really summarize well a lot of my own misgivings about this
latest alternative to the "traditional university" a lot better than I've
been able to do lately. The folks who tend to be the real movers and
shakers in this direction of distance learning at most schools tend not to
be as "happy and go-lucky" as our circus man, Eric. And you've reminded me
of that very frightening AT&T commercial where there is one prof teaching a
class on-line to god-only-knows how many zillions of students. Instead of
responding to students by name, he calls on a city, an entire region, as if
this is the only teacher of this subject in the whole US. This is not a
happy vision for me. I suppose one could say "yes, but we [meaning
teachers like us] have good intentions," and maybe that's true. But then I
think about the road to hell's pavement, and I get paranoid again.

BTW, another reason why I haven't been entirely enthusiastic about all this
is I really like the f2f interaction with students that is facilitated in
the brick-n-mortar classroom. Tenure issues and university structuring
questions aside, I don't know if I would want to be a teacher anymore if I
did it all on-line.

>I have been thinking about this too. Some of your misgivings may come from
>the need to have a real place to come to and work. WHen I was an undergrad,
>I had no place to go except the common student areas. As a grad student
>TA, I had a desk in a crowded office and that made a big difference. The
>shift to virtual places is fraught with anxieties and dangers. Some say
>this shift is happening in the corporate world. The result is greater
>freedom for the worker who can now stay at home and dial in. But there are
>losses in status and greater isolation. So moving in this direction for
>educational enterprise is scary because, as many have pointed out, higher
>ed seems headed for a corporate model and not all the models for virtual
>ed. share the Crumpean vision of play, exploration, interactivity and so
>on. Many are based on cutting costs, cutting out expensive profs,
>technology used to deliver banking ed more efficiently. Maybe this means
>that the Crumps are more needed out there to provide and argue for
>alternatives. But they are needed inside too, because the U. is placed to
>organize these sites, courses, whatever. Actually, despite anxieties, I
>somehow feel a bit of visionary optimism about the longterm effcts of WAN
>on education. I see the net as furthering disciplinary breakdown and
>cross-fertilization, especially where writing pedagogy is concerned. But
>this vision is always dogged by its dystopian shadow . . .
>Albert Rouzie
>Dept of English-Ellis 385
>Ohio University
>Athens, OH. 45701
>Eng: (614) 593-2838
>Office: 593-2784
>fax#: 593-2818
>"Your book fills a much needed gap."
> --Moses Hadas

Steve Krause * Department of English * Southern Oregon State College
1250 Siskiyou Blvd. * Ashland, OR 97520 * Office Phone: 541-552-6630
School e-mail: * Personal e-mail: