Proprietary Education

Proprietary Education is a huge and growing industry worldwide. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, people the world over have access to education -- primary, secondary, vocational, and postsecondary -- like never before. On the other hand, with the rise of for-profit schools, the profit motive is changing the incentives of education providers.


I am an administrator at the online campus of a regionally-accredited postsecondary institution in the USA. I teach undergraduate courses online, as well.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Separate But Equal, cont'd

"Kentucky’s community colleges this fall have started a pilot project in which an outside company is reading and providing evaluations of student essays in freshman composition courses." (Outsourced Grading)

"The controversial new master’s degree is in graphic arts and Web design and would be offered through a New York City company called" (Outsourcing the Faculty)

The separation of instruction and assessment is here. The two articles above are just two of the more exteme examples of late, but CLEP, AP, and 'challenge testing out' of undergraduate courses are well-established ways to avoid the classroom. A somewhat less extreme separation of instruction and assessment is the use of Teaching Assistants to either teach courses that professors grade, or vice versa.

Charter Oak State College in Connecticut and Excelsior College in New York have gone so far as to enable one to earn an undergraudate degree strictly through a combination of CLEP, DANTES, and GRE exams, along with trasfer credit from other schools. One can earn a BA from either of these two colleges without having received any instruction under their auspices. (See BA in 4 Weeks for details.)

If instruction and assessment were separated, education would improve dramatically. For one thing, it would be easy to establish whether a college's curriculum were worth half a damn. One would need only check the ratios of their students' entrance and exit exams. Educational corruption would be obviated, as well. There would be no point in hanging out or sleeping with one's instructor, if one were going to be assessed by a third party.

One of my colleagues has suggested that we create a set of exit exams that would compete with CLEP. I have suggested going at this from the opposite direction, and run a CLEP/DANTES/GRE prep service marketed as a front-end to Charter Oak and Excelsior. If you would like to fund either of these, feel free to post a comment below, and we'll work out a way to communicate privately. ;-)

And that's all I have to say about that.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Separate But Equal

I had an interesting argument on the Internet over the past two days. This is happening more and more frequently, as I become a strong advocate of the separation of instruction and assessment.

More later. This is just a reminder to myself to post a longer statement.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Predatory Sales^H^H^H^H^H Admissions Techniques

I dug around a bit and found this article that pretty much sums up our industry.

I need to go floss.


What's your point?

From time to time, I rant to one of my trusted colleagues -- we'll call him Guinan for now -- about some of the things that I see at work. Between the heart-wrenching stories that students tell me (some of which I will recount here) and the pathetic political machinations of my colleagues, I am reminded of the old adage about sausage:

Those who appreciate education and sausage should never see how either is made.

So... Guinan tells me: "You need a blog." Sure. Why not? Given a choice between impotent rage and arguing on the Internet, um, well, whutevver.

Welcome to Proprietary Education.

My thoughts go out to my students in the path of Hurricane Rita. I hope you all get through this thing better than my students in the New Orleans area did.