Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore

David Wagner, Managing Editor | 12/28/2012 | 89 comments

David Wagner
It has long been suggested that technology was eventually going to allow for enough people to virtually attend classes that we wouldn't need the physical building.

But until now, most people have assumed that there would be something called a school where affiliated teachers would teach. A new platform, Professor Direct, allows for teachers to cut out the school and charge students directly for their expertise.

Each course on Professor Direct starts at $49 per student. Professors can choose to charge more. Professor Direct takes the first $49, but anything over it goes directly to the professor. Some schools will actually accept some of the classes for transfer credit, so this is no free online course designed to just grab eyeballs.

As the platform grows, one could actually imagine superstar professors in all fields choosing to skip out on the Harvards and Princetons of the world to serve their content at luxury prices on a platform like this one. Given the ability to pack literally thousands of students into a class, it wouldn't take too many students, even at $100 per student, to outstrip the salary of a college professor. Of course, there are some current drawbacks.

For one, students can't get a degree directly from a place like Professor Direct. Degrees are obviously important in the current job market, and we're unlikely to see that change any time soon.

Another is that professors will miss out on research support from universities. Travel expenses, labs, research assistants, and technicians are all a part of the built-in cost of a professor that a school accepts upon hiring. Building enough student following to make up for that lost assistance will be difficult for most professors.

Another factor is prestige. One must be at the right university or write the right book to build the superstar status that would command the fees and bring in the class sizes that would make being an unaffiliated professor lucrative.

Still, you're going to have people with the social networking skills, charisma, teaching ability, or ability to overcome research issues that are willing to make a go of it. And the price, along with the ability to transfer credits, is going to attract students.

Even if this alone doesn't bring down the walls of the school, it is clear technology is going to bring the people with knowledge and expertise closer together. If you're the CIO or president of a school, you're going to have to find a way to keep putting yourself into the space or facilitating the contact between students and your own professors. If you fail, expect to be disintermediated.

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nimanthad   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   2/4/2013 12:09:30 AM
Re: Re : Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore
Yes that is possible. You need to monitor the progress if its being installed.
Susan Nunziata   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/31/2013 10:24:03 PM
Re: Re : Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore
@Nimanthad: Agreed. Otherwise it could turn into a way to cheat people as we've seen with some for-profit educational organizations already.
nimanthad   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/31/2013 9:28:09 PM
Re: Re : Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore
Susan I'm ok with it as long as the education is met properly with real standards
Susan Nunziata   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/26/2013 8:50:43 PM
Re: Re : Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore
@Nimathad: There's definitely plenty of room for experimentation here. I'm particularly intrigued by what new worlds this could open up for disabled students who may have difficulty in a traditional classroom environment. 
nimanthad   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/26/2013 3:40:26 AM
Re: Re : Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore
Yes Suzan I also support online learning but 1st I feel we must give it a trial run and check the response from both students and parents. If its positive then move forward.
freespiritny25   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/16/2013 2:05:10 PM
Re: true, but how?
I agree. Technology has really transformed how we learn, teach, and view much of the world. The amount of information we can gain from technology is tenfold than what we can learn from one professor. However, I still think professors add a lot to delivering instruction, assessing student achievement, and providing constructive feedback.  I still think professors are an intricate component in teaching/learning, but they are not the only way to deliver/receive knowledge.
David Wagner   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/10/2013 2:57:24 PM
Re: true, but how?
Well, tuition has risen far above inflation because of increased costs. A CIO who can show ROI on limiting costs can find the money. If you can't show ROI, keep looking. We all know costs are rising too fast in comparison to actual costs. Univerisities are all being run poorly because they are run by academics instead of business folks. It is time for CIOs (or someone) to get this under control.
eethtworkz   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/10/2013 11:10:26 AM
Re: true, but how?
David,

 

What you are talking about is basically Automation.

And for that you need Money.

Thats's the whole problem today.

Wher is the Money for Cash-strapped Universities going to come from?

Then there is another issue about vested interests.

They won't let any change that drastically reduces their comfy jobs happen.
David Wagner   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/7/2013 11:07:51 AM
Re: true, but how?
@eethtworkz- Well, the education CIO can employ many tactics we've seen elsewhere to lower costs for schools. The physical plant is a major school cost. Implementation of smart technology there could help. Schools have tons of data that are held in legacy systems that for some cases literally still are on paper. Fixing that would help.

Labs and research facilities can be upated and data collection streamlined. We've covered a lot and will continue to cover more.
eethtworkz   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/7/2013 10:56:56 AM
Re: true, but how?
David,

Not so sure.

If Universities do get either Subsidized IT equipment from Vendors or Taxbreaks from The Government;I really don't know where the Funds for IT upgrades[& CIO's improved role will come from].

Sorry to sound so pensive.
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