You can find all kinds of things on the web.
For instance, a promotional video featuring interviews with Dr. Larson and OCC faculty praising all things Pearson Learning Studio. It includes a commitment to increase enrollment of online students from 7,000 to 21,000 by 2017.
Where will these students come from?
Right now, the majority of our online students are in county. Of course, since I’m not a business minded person, I don’t understand how poaching off on campus students and moving them online – where I believe Pearson skims a percentage off the tuition dollars – amounts to a sound financial strategy.
Yet I am a media literacy person, and as such was able to appreciate the high production values of the YouTube puff piece and understand that many will be fooled into thinking that such polish confers legitimacy.
Pearson’s ability to achieve the same “values” in print media was on display at a recent board meeting where a DL administrator handed out glossy trifold pamphlets extolling the success of OCC’s online remedial offerings. It is a land where data points rule and apparently, everything is rosy. Dogs and cats live in harmony, manna falls from the sky, and the streets are paved with gold.
Of course to students it’s a great class. They can retake tests until they pass them and, as a bonus, readily find answers online to these tests: a quick web search for “mylab pearson answers” found several sites with . . . answers to MyLab questions. And if that doesn’t work, there are phone apps that allow you to take a picture of an equation on your screen and get the correct answer in seconds (I learned that hack from a high school student). Confession time. I exaggerated in the previous paragraph: the streets aren’t paved with gold in online classes; they’re paved with easily found answers.
Why would the college/Pearson spend the time and money to promote a particular format of teaching remedial classes? Why was what amounted to an advertisement for Pearson handed out at a board meeting? There was no equivalent handout from the administration for the good work our students do in on campus classes.
Yet on campus remedial work did get a more appropriate shout out; instead of empty gloss, the board received something much more substantial: a copy of PEN, OCC’s magazine of student writing, which included several works from our 091 and 095 English classes. And that’s the way it should be. Instead of the college posing as a shill for a media conglomerate, we should be celebrating our student’s actual accomplishments.
And I’m still not sure how a data point, given the open nature of learning, really shows much. How is it research? Where’s the control group? Where’s the equivalency?
What’s your take on Pearson, a Mad Men approach to higher education, and opportunities to praise the work we and our students accomplish?
Looking forward to reading what you have to say. And for those worried about repercussions from speaking out, remember that comments can be anonymous.