I liked this piece on outsourcing distance education, by Marc Perry at the Chronicle of Higher Education. (I always learn something when I read Marc’s pieces; I think he is really good and has a totally fascinating beat.) It seems to me that anybody who covers a college should find out whether it outsources its online classes, to whom, and what—if any—conflicts or unintended consequences those relationships create. Would employers care, down the road, if a Northeastern University diploma reflected an education built more by a company like Embanet than by Northeastern itself? Would the parents shelling out $45,000 a year care, even if the employers don’t? Would the students care? I don’t know—maybe nobody cares but the professors whose roles are being supplanted.
I come back to this question again and again: Must for-profit efficiencies and delivery of an excellent education be mutually exclusive? My gut has its own answer, but my brain needs to know far more about the who, what, when, where and why.