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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David Wagner   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/7/2013 10:37:15 AM
Re: true, but how?
@eethtworkz- I don't think this is the place to necessarily discuss unions other than to say that there are plenty of schools spending lots of money on administration that are not at all affiliated with unions.

Something must be done about the increasing costs of running universities for sure. And the CIO can be at the front line of a lot of that.
eethtworkz   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/7/2013 10:33:52 AM
Re: true, but how?
David,

yes I could'nt agree more.

The big thing that genuinely worries me today is that Universities are spending more on Administration than on Professors(&teaching) today thanks to bloated salaries for most of the Unionized Staff.

This is a real-real problem for most of Universities(especially State ones);which have seen their Budgets cut drastically since 2011.

But How do you dislodge the Unions?

Follow what Michigan did recently with their Right to Work Law?

 
David Wagner   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/7/2013 10:12:23 AM
Re: true, but how?
Universities with PhD programs in a given subject mostly have TAs. But TAs are there to learn, too. I don't think I'd like to put more pressure down on them.

As for professors being pampered two things.

1) I think when we think of professors being pampered we think of Ivy League senior professors who teach only when they want, have endless research grants, and have already built a career. The vastmajority of professors have a very different lifestyle.

2) The goal isn't to free up the professors to give them more spa time. The goal is to give them more face to face time with students. That doesn't mean less work. it means more important work.
eethtworkz   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/5/2013 6:42:35 AM
Re: true, but how?
David,

Don't most Universities have TAs and RAs???

Is'nt that what they are supposed to do?

Don't get me wrong but why Do I get the feeling many-many Professors are way too pampered???
David Wagner   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/4/2013 4:18:13 PM
Re: true, but how?
@eethtworkz- The research question depends I suppose on the university. Maybe college should accept (as some clearly do with their small teaching loads) that some of their faculty don't need to teach at all to make a contribution.

As for making face to face interaction easier, I think it is partially just about making paperwork faster. It is also about making research less labor dependent. There's probably some work with communications that can be done to lower travel time as well.
eethtworkz   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/4/2013 2:08:55 PM
Re: true, but how?
David,

I knew I could count on you to always get the right Feedback on what makes a College Work(& what does'nt)!!!

 

Excellent,Excellent point you made here.

This Face to Face interaction is the USP of College Education.

The real question though is the one you asked-How can you reduce Professor's Other responsibilities in College so that they have more time for Student Interaction?

What about another issue-What if the Professor really is more interested in Research than in Teaching?

What can you do then?

 
eethtworkz   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/4/2013 2:05:40 PM
Re: what about the acceptance?
Rdv,

Lots of things matter(including Accrediation).

I know for a fact if I was looking to complete my Degree(on Loan);I would jump at the chance to complete Credits if the University offered Online Courses which cost 30%-50% less.

Unless you have experienced an insurmountable Debt Burden you won't know what I am driving at here.

Regards

Ashish.
eethtworkz   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/4/2013 2:03:24 PM
Re: Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore
JPoe,

If a few( over-valued & Super-expensive)Brick and Mortar Schools do get eliminated in the process ;it won't really be much of a loss on Society.

Aleast it would save more gullible students from falling into an ever-deepening Debt Trap.

Won't it?
Pubudu   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/4/2013 1:17:54 AM
Re: what about the acceptance?
Yea all these are true, It's good to use technology to education. But do you all remember what we have done in our university life, haw many memories do we have, How Meany this we have to talk about our university life. Classrooms and teachers give more tangibility to education. So How many things will they loose with new technology ????
rdv   Professors Don't Need Schools Anymore   1/2/2013 1:17:18 PM
Re: what about the acceptance?
I donno the exact model of Coursera, but the courses at edx.org are 1-3 month courses, there are exams and we do get a certification on completion of the course... My experience with the earlier course on Circuits was great.... For Spring this year I have signed for a course and I hope I learn many things time...
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