Digital diploma mills: The automation of higher education
In recent years changes in universities, especially in North America, show that we have entered a new era in higher education, one which is rapidly drawing the halls of academe into the age of automation. Automation - the distribution of digitized course material online, without the participation of professors who develop such material - is often justified as an inevitable part of the new "knowledge-based" society. It is assumed to improve learning and increase wider access. In practice, however, such automation is often coercive in nature - being forced upon professors as well as students - with commercial interests in mind. This paper argues that the trend towards automation of higher education as implemented in North American universities today is a battle between students and professors on one side, and university administrations and companies with "educational products" to sell on the other. It is not a progressive trend towards a new era at all, but a regressive trend, towards the rather old era of mass-production, standardization and purely commercial interests.
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