Showing posts with label robocollege. Show all posts
Showing posts with label robocollege. Show all posts

Sunday, September 11, 2022

State Universities and the College Meltdown

State Universities are using Google Ads to boost enrollment numbers.

While for-profit colleges, community colleges, and small private schools received the most attention in the first iteration of the College Meltdown, regional public universities (and a few flagship schools) have also experienced financial challenges, reorganizations, and mergers, enrollment losses, layoffs and resignations, off-campus learning site closings and campus dorm closings, lower graduation rates, and the necessity to lower admissions standards. They are not facing these downturns, though, without a fight. 

State universities, for example, are attempting to maintain or boost their enrollment through marketing and advertising--sometimes with the assistance of helpful, yet sometimes questionable online program managers (OPMs) like 2U and Academic Partnerships and lead generators such as EducationDynamics.  

 

Academic Partnerships claims to serve 50 university clients.  HEI has identified 25 of them. 

Google ads also follow consumers across the Web, with links to enrollment pages.  And enrollment pages include cookies to learn about those who click onto the enrollment pages. Schools share the information that consumers provide with Google Analytics and Chartbeat.  

                                       A pop-up Google Ad for Penn State World Campus

Advanced marketing will not improve institutional quality directly but it may raise awareness of these state schools to targeted audiences.  Whether this becomes predatory may be an issue worth examining.

Despite marketing and enrollment appeals like this, we believe the financial situation could worsen at non-flagship state universities when austerity is reemployed--something likely to happen during the next economic downturn

While state flagship universities have multiple revenue streams, they are often unaffordable for working families.  Elite state universities, also known as the Public Ivies, have increasingly shut out state residents--in favor of people from out of state and outside the US--who are willing to pay more in tuition. 

Aaron Klein at the Brookings Institution calls this significant (and dysfunctional) out-of-state enrollment pattern as The Great Student Swap.  

State Universities with more than 4000 foreign students include UC San Diego, University of Illinois, UC Irvine, University of Washington, Arizona State University, Purdue University, Ohio State University, Michigan State University, and UC Berkeley. 

People fortunate enough to attend large state universities as undergrads may feel alienated by large and impersonal classrooms led by graduate assistants and other adjuncts.  There are also significant and often under-addressed social problems related to larger universities, including hunger, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, hazing and sexual assault.  

Online only versions of flagship schools may not be of the same quality as their brick and mortar counterparts. Purdue University Global and University of Arizona Global Campus, for example, are open enrollment schools for working adults which produce questionable student outcomes.  These "robocollege" schools hire few full-time instructors and often spend a great deal of their resources on marketing and advertising.  


EducationDynamics is a lead generator for "robocolleges" such as Purdue University Global and University of Arizona, Global Campus.  

 

                    Purdue University Global has used questionable marketing and advertising.

The Higher Education Inquirer has already noticed the following schools in the Summer and Fall 2022 that received media scrutiny for lower enrollment, financial problems, or labor issues:

 
 
 
 
 

More schools will be added as information comes in. 
 
Related link: College Meltdown 2.0 



Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Higher Education Assembly Line

[Image of the boss in Diego Rivera's Mural of Detroit Industry]

I'm conducting a study of Taylorism (aka The "Scientific Management of Work") in online higher education. If you are in the education business, I would appreciate your input, both positive and critical.

According to Maduakolam Ireh, "scientific management (in the 19th century and beyond) eliminated the need for skilled labor by delegating each employee one simple task to repeat over and over. Although this method increased the productivity of factories, it stripped employees their freedom to choose their work, as well as how it should be done."  While it may be an exaggeration that academic work is like factory work, trends in US higher education point to reduced autonomy, job deskilling, and greater demands to produce more work in less time.

In online higher education, a small number of full-time instructors act as managers, with part-timers (euphemistically called associate professors) facilitating classes--with little input regarding content. Academic work is deskilled: educational content is created on an assembly line that includes instructional designers, copy editors, finishers, and quality assurance specialists who may all be precarious 1099 workers.

Associate faculty are kept in the dark about what's happening. According to one person on thelayoff.com, "...when you're let go don't expect any sort of phone call. One day you'll go to login to the portal and it will say your credentials are invalid. You'd do what any normal person will do and call technical support. Support will awkwardly tell you'll to contact your supervisor to regain access. So you'll call them and if you're lucky enough that your supervisor wasn't also let go in the most recent round of cuts then they'll give you a call in a few days to let you know the bad news."
Is anything lost in the deskilling and marginalization of academic labor?
Unlike an assembly line, however, academic laborers in online higher education may never see each other or talk to each other, creating an atmosphere of alienation, especially among adjunct instructors. Feedback is created by student surveys and by crucial numbers such as retention rate, but not necessarily skill attainment or gainful employment.

Management signals workers an organization's true values and priorities. What values and priorities are online managers signalizing to their faculty? And how does this play out in the classroom and in decisions by faculty and staff?
"They had us deactivate an associate faculty because she was doing what was right: reporting a student for plagiarizing. One of the associate deans didn’t like that she held a standard so she told them to deactivate her." -- Online college program chair
"I was increasingly asked to pass students who did not earn the grade. As a result I was put into a "professional development" program which resulted in my leaving the university. I could no longer work for a school that has become a diploma mill." --Online instructor
It amazes me how online higher education has been able to reduce the number of full-time instructors to almost nothing, and with few complaints from consumers, educators, or teachers unions.
Have professors becoming obsolete, especially with colleges that serve working adults?
The small number of full-time instructors at regionally accredited online colleges is astounding:
  • Colorado State University Global has 34 full-time instructors for 12,000 students. 
  • Ashford University has 194 full-time instructors for about 35,000 students.
  • University of Maryland Global has 193 full-time instructors for 60,000 students.
  • Colorado Technical University has 59 full-time instructors for 26,000 students. 
  • Devry University online has 53 full-time instructors for about 17,000 students. 
  • South University has 0 full-time instructors for more than 6000 students 
  • American Intercontinental University has 51 full-timers for about 8,700 students.
  • Southern New Hampshire University has 164 full-time instructors for 104,000 students.
  • Walden University has 206 full-time instructors for more than 50,000 students. 
  • Capella University has 216 full-time instructors for about 38,000 students.
  • Liberty University has 1072 full-timers for more than 85,000 students. 
  • University of Phoenix has 70 full-time instructors for 96,000 students.
  • Purdue University Global has 346 full-time instructors for 38,000 students.
Glass Door, Grad Reports, and other internet sites, however, provide a small peek into the world of academic worker and student dissatisfaction.  But it's not sufficient in understanding the magnitude of Taylorism in online higher education. 
What's your take on the online higher education assembly line? And what numbers do you find important?

Related article: ‘The Gig Academy’ Colleen Flaherty (Inside Higher Education)