Virtual Education Reality

Facilitating Democracy

In his book Decadence and Renewal in the Higher Learning (1978), Russell Kirk wrote of the “personal and social danger” caused by sham schooling in American colleges.  Kirk loathed the commodification of college education and saw it as an example of a success-driven people putting the quest for the ideal way of life further and further behind them.  He warned that, if school administrators emphasized managerial skills, two things would happen: Faculty would lose interest in scholarship and become academic careerists, and student populations would be filled with loafers, ever trying to lighten the heavy load of thinking.

Richard Weaver, who was, among other things, a professor of English at the University of Chicago, warned about “the surfeit of falsity born of technology and commercialism.”  Privately owned, for-profit colleges offering cyber-education certainly fit that description.  Indeed, when I uncovered five cases of student plagiarism, including the copying of whole paragraphs, in the sole “module” that I “facilitated” at a University of Phoenix (UoP) campus, I was struck by a “surfeit of falsity.”  Even more so, when I heard nothing from the administration after turning in the names of these students midway through our module.

UoP claims to be “the largest university in the world,” but most of its students pursue...

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