Teaching tech: the microphone
Prior to the internet, the last technology that really reorganized teaching was the microphone. Without a microphone, manageable class size tops out at about 50. With a microphone, the sky’s the limit—you can have huge lectures with expensive profs, and lots of sections taught by cheap TAs and adjuncts. What’s not to like?
The microphone was a way to lower our cost per student, without lowering the price we charged. That pattern is common to many of the changes these last thirty years or so. More internships. More transfer credits. More recognizing credit for work, or “life experience.” More competency-based credits, meaning credit for knowing something, rather than for learning something. And so on.
The end game is degrees that are little more than receipts for work done elsewhere.