Governor Pawlenty recently appeared on MPR's Midday show.
Among other things, he shared his analysis of the problems facing higher ed in Minnesota, which he compared to Blockbuster Video stores (read: out of date, behind the times). His prescription: become like an iTunes store (iCollege) and offer basic courses online. This will work, he presumes, because online courses are cheaper than brick and mortar classes, and because they don't have to be taught by tenured faculty (who apparently aren't very good at lecturing anyhow). He also claims that studies show that student learning is as good, or better, than the traditional classroom. I wonder which studies he is reading, because what I've read in the minutes from University Senate committees suggests a far more complicated picture in terms of cost and quality. Perhaps the real agenda is to get rid of all of the pesky tenured professors, since most of them probably don't vote for him anyhow.
But the online education mania is shared by some who don't have Pawlenty's conservative pedigree. Anya Kamenetz's recent book, "DIY U," (Do it Yourself) shares his enthusiasm for online education. She was recently interviewed on MPR's Midmorning show:
Brace yourself, this issue is not going away.