Virginia’s Online Revolution Waits for No Man

The un-virtual campus at Liberty University.

Lynchburg, Va., is home to the seventh largest university in the nation, we discover in reading the latest edition of Virginia Business magazine. Yes, it turns out that the little university founded by fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell in 1971 is delivering a college education to 12,750 residential students and 82,000 online this year. (Wikipedia gives a 2010 enrollment of 56,625, but also ranks Liberty as No. 7 in the country.)

Liberty offers 130 online-only degrees in 50 academic programs. The average age of students is 35. Most are married, have mortgages, hold down jobs and are involved in their church, although the university also reaches out to military service members and their families.

“Moving families or quitting a job to return to school at a bricks-and-mortgage university is out of the question for many working people,” writes Richard Foster for Virginia Business. “So online courses are a more cost-effective option.” Full-time residential undergrads at Liberty pay $9,200 per semester, but full-time online enrollees pay less than $4,000.

The online education revolution waits for no man. While prestigious institutions like the University of Virginia engage in controversy and soul-searching over how to integrate online education, upstart institutions like Liberty are racking up market share. The 82,000 online enrollment at Liberty is up from only 12,670 in 2006. It may be decades, if ever, before the quality of Liberty’s four-year residential experience can match that of UVa, but Liberty is ramping up the learning curve of online teaching far more rapidly.

Meanwhile, other Virginia institutions are active in online education, according to Virginia Business. Herndon-based K12 Inc., delivers online courses to more than 100,000 public school students across the U.S. The for-profit firm, founded in 2000, now generates $700 million in revenues, employs 3,000 full-time and part-time workers and is growing at a rate of 30% per year. The per-child cost of virtual education is about 60% of bricks-and-mortar schooling. School systems can tap K12’s class catalog to offer advanced placement courses or specialty courses, like Chinese language, to small groups of high-performing students.

Another Northern Virginia institution, Strayer University, is also an online leader. About half of the university’s 50,000-student population consists of online learners. Instead of running “synchronous” classes, in which teacher and students all meet at the same time, Strayer favors “asynchronous” classes that allow busy adults to take as their schedules allow. One of the university’s more noteworthy programs is the eMBA program offered through the Jack Welch Management Institute, featuring lectures and occasional live appearances by the former GE CEO.

Snooty elitists will sneer at the quality of education offered online. And, to some extent, they’ll be right. There are real limitations to the level of teacher-student interaction that can take place online — just as there are in introductory courses with 300 students and one professor offered at a traditional university. But the technology is continually improving, and the Liberties, Strayers and K12s are constantly experimenting, innovating and learning what works. The quality of the educational experience will get better — at half the cost. Long-term, many traditional colleges and universities are toast.


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  1. DJRippert Avatar

    Traditional academia has become something of a lifetime employment contract for left-of-center professors, researchers and administrators.

    The new, online learning approach represents a direct threat to the market share of traditional bricks and mortar colleges and universities. While the traditional schools won’t disappear, they may find less demand for their product – especially with the echo boomers leaving their college years and online education making progress against traditional schools.

    The lifetime employment contract for left-leaning professors is being challenged. We should expect to see left-leaning politicians fight this trend. Certainly, college loans will be under even greater threat for these online colleges and universities. Then, accreditation will be challenged. Liberals cringe at the thought of a world where perhaps one half of the institutions of higher learning are replaced by online education.

    Fifteen years ago, it was 1997. The dot com revolution was in full swing. However, that revolution would “crash and burn” with the Clinton recession of 2000 – 2003. Pundits would come out of the woodwork to decry the “dot bomb bubble”. Traditional bricks and mortar retailers strutted up and down the hallways of corporate America proclaiming the online revolution to be a fad.

    Then a funny thing happened ….

    Online sales regained their footing and began to take market share away from traditional bricks and mortar companies. First, it was only a percent or two, then three, four and five. Today, 7% of all retail sales are made online with a pretty clear trend up to 9% – 10% by 2016.

    How far can it go? What is the ceiling? While nobody knows for sure, this article makes a decent case for 20 – 25% –

    So, what of online higher education?

    Well, there are no physical goods that must be moved. If I buy a bicycle online then somebody ultimately needs to put the bike in a box and ship it to me. That costs money and requires that I defer instant gratification. College education is much different – especially the asynchronous method. Nothing is inherently physical. I can sign up now and be learning five minutes later.

    I believe the potential for online education (as a percentage of total) is roughly twice the potential for online retail – in other words, 50% market share.

    It will take 20 years to happen but it will happen. Unless, of course, the friends of traditional education in Congress can put the brakes on online education. This would certainly be a net negative for America but Congress is rarely seen as putting America ahead of its own partisan policies. So, expect the left-leaning politicians to fight this “existential threat” to traditional education tooth and nail.

    1. reed fawell Avatar
      reed fawell

      Great Article and comment.

      Given the wealth draining out of our society, Virtual Education driven by the likes of Liberty University will eat the many heretofore monopolistic Brick and Mortar Universities alive.

      No one is exempt. Endowments are threatened. New giving is likely to shrink dramatically for many schools. Thus, unless they change their corrupt and inefficient ways quick, many elite institutions may quickly sink into mediocrity. Many of the rest face extinction altogether.

      Virtual Book Selling emptied out Big Box Retail sellers in a decade. This happened during the DO-DA Days, the good times. Now, Revenue Contraction within the society will accelerate and expand the process with higher education standing among the first in line on the chopping block.

      I doubt the ability of many, including elite institutions, to adjust. Some campuses may be crumbling into brown fields before the decade is out.

  2. ” MIT for the masses? Elite universities transform online education with free cyber courses

    SAN FRANCISCO — When the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offered its first free online course this spring, Ashwith Rego jumped at the chance to learn from some of the world’s leading researchers — without leaving his home in India.”

    ” EdX officials say 154,000 students from more than 160 countries registered for MIT’s first online course, “Circuits and Electronics,” this past spring. Only about 7,100 students passed the course, but that’s still a lot more than can fit in a lecture hall.”

    that’s freaking amazing!

    next think you know – we’re gonna have a deluge of folks with Online US College “degrees” applying for Visas and looking for work.

    How ironic – for UVA to turn it’s back on Virginia Kids who will ultimately end up selling Pizza or doing landscaping for highly paid foreign born technology gurus.

    the revolution is underway and the face of education is going to change – and I believe – for the better.

    College and Universities may well become modern day higher education versions of “Prep Schools” where only the rich and well off can really afford to go.

    I always ask these days – for high school and up – what the real purpose is of an in-room teacher….

    No such questions for K-6 – you need highly qualified professionals to teach young children how to read and write – even if it will be done on a tablet computer or whatever.

    1. reed fawell Avatar
      reed fawell

      “College and Universities may well become modern day higher education versions of “Prep Schools” where only the rich and well off can really afford to go.”

      No, Only the children of the Rich and/or Fools will go.

      And, once taxpayers realizes this, they will and should insist that their government stops subsidizing this grossly inefficient or wasteful model of higher education that we now have.

      This then might kick the sticks out from what remains under the whole bloated structure we now have. Hopefully then society can save huge amounts of now wasted dollars, while the creative people in the system build far better models in place of the old monolithic one.

  3. Richard Avatar

    DJ and Reed – It is a Brave New World you describe. Your enthusiasm does remind me of the 2000-2001 internet bubble and other enthusiasms of the past (real estate, stocks, Japan, tulips). There are some things that you can’t get online – trust, affection, respect, tradition, a mentor, a spouse – that you can get at a real college.

    1. reed fawell Avatar
      reed fawell

      Richard – Thanks for your comment. You’re right. I did overstate my case. And way over simplified it too. This is a highly complicated subject obviously. I suspect that many brick and mortar universities (including the elites), for a variety of reasons, will be under ever increasing pressure to trim back into their core mission. And thus will refocus their energies on more efficiently and effectively teaching their students, and regain a more disciplined focus and control over research. This would include finding far better ways to use their physical plants and presence for competitive advantage over the more virtual university. And thus better serve students. Offering a student, for example, far more small highly mentored Classroom experiences with other highly talented and committed students. Hopefully then the end result will be a far better, more varied and flexible, educational system all around, serving the needs of a far larger universe of students at far lower cost. Is that naive? Maybe. But maybe not too.

    2. DJRippert Avatar


      There are definitely some things you can’t get online. If I had to choose today between an online education and four years in Charlottesville, I’d take Charlottesville. And I’d accept the extra costs and I’d work at a Mexican restaurant during the school year and I’d borrow money to do it (all things I actually did). But I would have been happy to take online courses during the summer and graduate in three years. That would have saved me some debt.

      I don’t see an “either / or” choice. I just see some college education being delivered online. A small percentage of people will do everything online. A small percentage will do nothing online. The majority will do some online and some in-class.

      Actually, I would have really like to go to college for two years, work a year, go to college two years, work a year and then do a final two years of college and end up with a master’s degree. I could have done some online learning during the years I was working.

      Lots of flexibility.

      1. saunders Avatar

        Excellent point. I do not understand why everyone has to be out front before we know if we are riding bravely into the future or following the head lemming off a cliff. There are only two things of which I am certain. First, anyone who tells you what education will look like ten years from now is wrong. And second, ten years from now the variety of educational possibilities will be even greater than they are now. The strength of the American educational system mirrors the strength of America: (nearly)
        infinite variety.

  4. If you think about how higher ed “works” – they’re going to continue to ask for and take money – it’s what they do.

    The question is what would make them change.

    In my view, institutions like Liberty with their online efforts will attract more and more people who cannot afford 4 years of conventional attendance.

    Liberty it looks like has recognized the trend and taken advantage of it while others are still kicking the dirt and hemming and hawing.

    I’d STILL like to see Virginia put together a High-School/Community College online curriculum to meet the needs of kids who simply do not have individual or familial financial ability to go the 4-yr traditional college route.

    Every kid that gets at least that much education is one less kid that is less likely to need public assistance, MedicAid and foot stamps.

    for the kids and families that can afford a 4-year experience, more power to them but our tax dollars should be focused on those who have the ability but not the finances and we can send a ton more kids to college “online” than we can bricks&mortar

  5. but I still don’t get the “lefty” lifetime professors… idea… that DJ seems preoccupied with.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Just seems to me that there are institutions that are favored by the left and institutions that are favored by the right.

      Lefties like universities and unions, for example.

      Righties like the military, the NRA, etc.

      Generally, lefties and righties like institutions that think (and vote) along with their philosophical lines. University professors, researchers and administrators are generally more liberal than average and, therefore, lefties like universities.

      University professors make no bones about their willingness to discriminate against people based on conservative beliefs:

      “One respondent wrote in that if department members “could figure out who was a conservative, they would be sure not to hire them.”. If I made that statement to my board of directors they would fire me for putting my personal feeling ahead of the company’s interests. In universities, I guess that’s OK.

      Now, other than universities, where would idiots like Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reed find such a vehemently anti-conservative crowd? Even the vegan community has some religious people who are conservative.

      What do you think the liberals will do when one of their bastions of liberalism is threatened?

      They will fight the threat – pretty much any way they can.

      1. saunders Avatar

        I love this bias. Yes, people who are willing to dedicate their lives to abstract teaching and research tend to be a touch more liberal. I am shocked (to find that gambling is going on…) If you go to the Business School and Econ Department, where things are a little more practical, you will find people who tend to be more conservative. But most faculty are happy to see a paper with which they disagree, on either side, as long as it is well written. You can find a limited number of counterexamples, although I always suspect that an intelligent professor when asked, “Do you tolerate conservatives in your class’ is tempted to have some fun with the idiot asking the question.

      2. Richard Avatar

        OK. I’ll accept that most college professors are liberal, just as most NRA members are not. But so what? Do you think that a tenured economics professor who is conservative will have any less objections to big changes in the tenure system than a wild-eyed tenured environmental scientist (to use a couple of other stereotypes)? What I object to is infusing that preponderance into an argument as if it somehow meant anything, as if the fact that a professor or a media person is liberal somehow means their ideas or their work should be discounted? The truth is that most people are moderates, and yet politicians (and another generalization, particularly conservative politicians, who are “generally” better at it) categorize/demonize anyone with whom they disagree as “liberal” or “conservative” (or not a “true conservative”). Generalizations are ridiculous.

  6. I enjoyed my four years of college (hated law school though). They were an important part of my development. But institutions of higher education cannot continue to increase their operating costs and tuition charges at rates that grossly exceed increases in personal income. Likewise, they cannot expect huge annual increases in taxpayer funds.
    This somewhat reminds me of the newspaper industry that thought they could buck technology and, IMO, the sensibilities of many readers. Didn’t work, did it?
    Some big name schools will figure out how to combine online learning with campus experience on an affordable basis and leave many others in the dust. In 20 years, some venerable colleges and universities in the U.S. will no longer exist.

  7. What do you think the liberals will do when one of their bastions of liberalism is threatened?

    They will fight the threat – pretty much any way they can.

    are we equating conservatism with online education and liberalism with defending the status quo bricks & mortar?

  8. DJRippert Avatar

    “are we equating conservatism with online education and liberalism with defending the status quo bricks & mortar?”

    I think that colors a lot of the discussion.

    1. reed fawell Avatar
      reed fawell

      Yes, to a degree, facts and opinion seem to support that “conclusion about coloring a lot of the discussion.” Utah’s Mormon Church and Virginia’s Evangelicals are Pioneers reshaping Higher Education methodologies –

      Who would have thunk it? Well, as usual, the real world proves Liberal Stereotypes Bogus.

      And, of course, Many Liberals (with exceptions of course) rightfully ask: “If it ain’t broke, Why fix it?” Unfortunately for them, their definition of “Ain’t Broke” ain’t necessarily shared by a lot of folks trying to get educated, or by the Pioneers who are busily figuring out how to serve them.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      I should have been more clear. To liberals, traditional universities are somewhat sacred institutions. They don’t like to see much change. To conservatives, traditional universities are like enemy fortresses – they’d like to see a lot change.

      Then, there is the general belief that “for profit” corporations will dominate the online education field. Liberals see a “corporate invasion” of the hallowed halls of academia while conservatives see business efficiency finally coming to a bastion of inefficient liberalism.

      In reality, there is no reason why the universities themselves couldn’t dominate the online education world without letting big corporations push their way in. They could copyright the course material and build on campus studios to produce the lessons. Then, they could make the material available for free to their own students and license it to students elsewhere. Of course, that would require them to put down the tobacco pipe, hang up the sweater with the leather elbow patches and get their asses in gear.

      1. reed fawell Avatar
        reed fawell

        Well said. To a remarkable degree, they seem to have not a clue. And appear remarkably Timid about entering the arena, too. Although the official line argues Ethics. The Academy’s refusal on moral grounds to dirty their hands in crass commercial matters.

  9. saunders Avatar

    Most large and small Universities are doing some online education. Once they get it right and they are comfortable with it, you will see more. And that is how it should be.

    Why are liberals so conservative when it comes to education? I do not know. I have an idea why conservatives are so liberal. But it shocks me that conservatives do not believe in capitalism. If consumers do not want the product at the price, they will not buy it. The government is giving out loans, not gifts. (At least not many gifts.) The cost is not worth it, people will stop buying and things will change. We might have some Universities crash, even some state Universities. Believe me, University Presidents consider carefully the increase in tuition (much of it driven by market forces.)

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      “Why are liberals so conservative when it comes to education?”.

      Because they feel they have a strong base of support within universities and are loathe to change anything lest they risk that base of support.

      “But it shocks me that conservatives do not believe in capitalism.”.

      Same thing.

      There is no intellectual honesty among either fringe liberals or fringe conservatives.

  10. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    So, 82,000 people are “enrolled” online at Liberty University. Source? Liberty? Does this mean that they signed up and paid by credit card or one course? Or have they been matriculated as official students? This is backed up by Wikiepedia? The source with very loose reviews? And it is presented by a regional business magazine (which I once edited and know that the integrity of editing there can vary very greatly, depending on how influential the advertising department is at any particular time)?

    Are we supposed to believe this?

    1. C’mon, Pedro. Wikipedia’s source is the Institute of Education Sciences data center, 2010 data. Richard Foster with Virginia Business probably quoted someone from Liberty University directly. Are you really going to argue with those sources? Really? And what basis do you have for supposing they are inaccurate?

  11. Richard Avatar

    Liberty University is not your traditional liberal university (to use DJRippert’s characterization). There are many conservative universities out there – we have Patrick Henry University here in Purcellville. Great place if you want to get your science out of Genesis.
    Other more mainstream institutions might include Hillsdale (they send us lots of stuff), Noter Dame, Pepperdine, George Mason. My completely unsubstantiated opinion is that the characterization of universities as generally liberal is about as accurate as characterizing the mainstream media as biased against conservatives (they – the media that is – aren’t, they’re just spineless) – it’s a nice narrative but too simplistic.

    I doubt that there are many biologists being trained at Liberty, and I doubt that any modern literature is taught in the English classes. Most of the curriculum would probably be modern in the 1950s perhaps. Here from the Liberty website are all of the categories of online undergraduate degrees:
    Criminal Justice/Government
    General Education
    Health Sciences
    Management Information Systems
    Paralegal Studies

    I dare say (guess) that most of the online degrees are granted in education and religion. No Latin or Hebrew (the King James is just fine!). Not sure if I would want to have my pilot, nurse or psychologist getting his/her degree online. (And I definitely would not want my pastor to have his degree from Liberty (don’t think we’d have very interesting discussions.)

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      I think the characterization of universities as generally liberal is accurate. In my opinion, it is similar in nature to saying that NRA members are generally conservative.

      I am sure you can find exceptions to both rules of thumb. Hence the word, “generally”.

      I further believe that feelings about universities tend to vary by party lines. If you went to Capitol Hill and asked, “Should America encourage corporations to provide online education as part of our higher education strategy?”, the only people who would say “Never” would be liberal Democrats who fear a dilution of a the liberal bastion of education.

      How do liberals generally view home schooling? I’d say negatively. It is an affront to the generally liberal, union dominated, public K-12 public education system.

      Don’t get me wrong – I am not blasting liberals or universities. I just think it’s important to understand the psychology of the debate as well as the facts.

      As for the media being biased, I believe it is very biased and I am not alone.

      “A significant majority of respondents, 60 percent, also perceive bias in the media — 47 percent said the media is too liberal, and 13 percent said that that it was too conservative.

      Americans have perceived more liberal bias in the media than conservative bias by a large margin since at least 2002, according to Gallup.”.

      Not only do Americans perceive a greater bias in favor of liberal ideas but they perceive that bias as increasing since 2002.

      I share both perceptions.

      1. saunders Avatar

        I know any number of (sometimes extreme) liberals who considered homeschooling. Most rejected it because liberals tend to believe in an equality of opportunity and the best way to get that is to go into the public schools and fight for a great education. Liberals also tend to believe in the importance of getting comfortable with people who are different than you are a bit more than conservatives. But while many Liberals are uncomfortable with homeschooling, they will fight to the death for your right to homeschool your kids. (As long as you continue to pay taxes that go to the public school, as you should. They are not a user fee. They are the cost of maintaining equality of opportunity.) (As an interesting aside, I have heard several times that the modern homeschooling movement was started by ex-hippies who did not want their children corrupted by ‘the man’. Does anyone know how accurate that is?)

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      I also agree with Richard that Liberty University is not your typical liberal university. I believe that’s one reason that Liberty has implemented online education without needing to fire the president of the university or spark outrage about an “existential crisis” facing the university.

  12. […] institutions like the University of Virginia engage in controversy and soul-searching over how to integrate online education, upstart institutions like [Falwell's] Liberty are racking up market share.” …  […]

  13. Yes.. I’m waiting for the commercial with the Brain Surgeon who says, “and I’m a Phoenix”.


    and I suppose that some kinds of science taught at Universities might end up like religion – with accusations of heresy if the science violates your own beliefs or scientists have been caught sending nefarious emails.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      You might want to look very carefully at the number of American doctors who were born in America, got their bachelor’s degree in America, spent some time in Mexican or Caribbean medical schools and then came back to the US and passed the medical boards.

      Are you sure that none of your doctors got at least some of their training at offshore medical schools designed to take students who (generally) could not get into American medical schools?

      Also, the Chief of Police in Cincinnati is a graduate of the University of Phoenix. Is Cincinnati less safe than it would be had the Chief attended Ohio State?

      You are being very elitist here, LarryG. Very brand conscious. Do you drive a Toyota that has been re-branded a Lexus? Be honest here, LarryG!

      Funny thing – in Japan they have Lexuses. They look just like the cars in the US (give or take the steering wheel being on the opposite side). One big difference – they say Toyota on the cars. No mention of Lexus.

  14. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    You should measure online degrees AWARDED rather than how many people sign up to take a course and plop down a small amount of money. Anyone can sign up for a course. All you need is a credit card – not SAT or ACT scores and a decent GPA. Hell, I’ve tried to master WIndows and Office this way to little effect.
    I find it offensive that Virginia Business and other publications just plop down some marketers’ data without explaining it or giving it balance. If you look online of top online schools, Liberty is nowhere to be seen.
    Moreover, don’t forget who founded the school — Jerry Falwell — whom many found offensive in his extreme social conservatism. It goes far beyond the usual complaints about mainstream universities supposedly being “liberal” in their outlook.

    1. Depends on what you’re measuring. My point was that Liberty U is gaining online market share. Total enrollments sheds light on the trend line. If you’re measuring effectiveness, which is a legitimate but separate issue, then degrees awarded is a very good measure.

      The VB story did take somewhat of a golly-gee-whiz approach, look how big these online enterprises have grown. That is a perfectly legitimate angle to take when people are unaware of how fast the field is growing. But, as you point out, it’s only the very beginning of analysis. The next obvious question is, what kind of education are the students getting? What are they getting for the money?

  15. re: ” very elitist” boy have YOU got a WRONG number.

    I do not care how someone gets their education – as long as they meet the accreditation and performance standards for their occupation.

    the problem I have with for-profit businesses in education is a concern that standards might be compromised.

    I have no trouble with home-schooling, in fact, I support it not only as an alternative but complementary to public education; some kids learn better in different ways and I’m fine with that as long as they end up with an education that will be competitive in the world job market.

    “home schooling” via online may, in fact, be a superior alternative for bright kids that live in areas when many of their counterparts are not as advanced and the level of instruction at the school is keyed to demographics.

    but I must say this – DJ – for a non-retiree, you sure seem to have a lot of time on your hands.

    Are you sure you are not also retired and living off your laurels?


  16. DJRippert Avatar

    “Are you sure you are not also retired and living off your laurels?”.

    Interestingly, there are a lot of laurels in my yard. If I could find a way to live off them, I would. Until then, I have to work. Fortunately, I am good at multi-tasking so I can work AND keep an eye on rabble rousers like you.

  17. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    LarryG and DJR,
    Our state and country are stronger because you watchdog each other so well.
    Keep up the good work!~

  18. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    Regarding Richard’s comments on the quality of certain aggressive providers of distance learning, whether also offering brick and mortar education or not, I must admit that my commentary is strongly colored by my experience with the Great Courses offered by the Teaching Company. I also suggest there are several systemic advantages to monitor and insure the quality of distance education, advantages that are too often not found in the traditional brick and mortar setting.

    Regarding the advantages using the Teaching Company Model?

    1/ On Teacher excellence there is complete transparency. It’s built on a professional biography buttressed by a long and highly distinguished track record peer reviewed at leading Universities. Thus, a large number of these professors have won University Wide Teaching Excellence awards and national and International recognition.

    For example David Thorburn teaching Masterworks of Early 20th Century Literature:

    Professor of Literature, MITand Director of the MIT Communications Forum. He received his A.B. from Princeton, his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford. He taught in English Department at Yale for 10 years before joining the MIT Humanities Department in 1976. His fellowships and awards include Fulbright, Woodrow Wilson, and Rockefeller Foundation fellowships. He’s lectured widely in US and Europe on literature and media. He’s written Conrad’s Romanticism and many essays and reviews on literary, cultural, and media topics in such publications as Partisan Review, Yale Review, The New York Times, and The American Prospect, in addition to scholarly journals. He’s a poet published in Threepenny Review, Slate, The Atlantic Monthly and other publications. He’s edited collections of essays on Romanticism and on John Updike, and a widely used anthology of fiction, Initiation: Stories and Novels on Three Themes. He’s co-editor of Democracy and New Media and Rethinking Media Change, the launch volumes in the MIT Press series “Media in Transition,” of which he is editor in chief. He’s founder and for 12 years the Director of the Film and Media Studies program at MIT. He has won teaching awards at Yale and MIT, with courses in modern fiction and film among the most sought after in the Humanities Department. In 2002, he was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT’s highest teaching award.

    2/ In addition, all student’s can rate and comment on each course. So prospective buyers have a comparative and qualitative analysis of each course before they buy.

    See for example Student Comments on: Masterworks of Early 20th Century at:

    3/ Video versions of Teaching Co. courses include, where useful, highly sophisticated visual tools to enhance teaching process, and thereby deepen the students understanding.

    For example watch video Preview of “Pompeii: Daily Life in an Ancient Roman City” at:

    4/ The recorded lecture is open for all to see and criticize. Frauds, hangover days, sloppy or outdated scholarship, teaching failures (like failure to inspire) are exposed for all time. Simply put there is no place for failures to run and hide.

    5. The belief that all these courses are introductory courses typically found only in the large lecture halls of large Universities is not well founded.

    See for example 24 lectures on Dante’s Divine Comedy at:

    Or 32 (45minute each) lectures on Life and Operas of Verdi found at:

    Or the 108 lectures on Great Ideas of Psychology and Philosophy found at:

    If these are Introductory Courses, they are Introductory Course on Steroids. Add to all this, the course guides and suggested reading lists that buttress and deepen each course.

    I am confident that I am a demanding learner. The Quality of these Teaching Company offerings have never failed to astound me. The typical educational experience I derive from these courses far exceed, in quality and depth, what I received in four years at UVa.

    (I do however highly value the UVa experience for other reasons. And acknowledge that a 20 year old may well be less motivated to learn than the adult who buys from the Teaching Company. But I firmly believe that many Universities and Professors fail to properly motivate their students. (It’s plain to see. Visit the classroom of an indifferent professor. Then saunter down to the classroom of a Great Professor. His students are getting educated. Most of the rest are wasting their time, and their parents’ money. Yet how many indifferent Professors get fired these days? Best I can tell, absolutely none.)

    What is missing with the Teaching Company Educational experience is the irreplaceable small seminar of bright, highly motivated young scholars led by a great teacher. Here fresh insights and knowledge continually explode out of intense debate and discussion build on ongoing lectures and study of readings offered in Teaching Company type courses. This small seminar kind of experience is where a great teacher learns daily, too.

    If a University can link these constituent parts up into a synergistic whole, it will, I believe, create far better teaching experience than now offered. My God, imagine paying $40,000 grand a year to be taught mostly by Graduate Students! It’s Ridiculous.

    Or for Universities to pay outrageous salaries to “Great Professors” who refuse to teach! That’s Crazy too. And outright fraudulent, if students are forced to pay their salaries.

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