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Is Distance Education the Meteor and Are Faculty the Dinosaurs?

by Chris Cumo

DEWEY DEFALCO, ASSISTANT to the Director of Distance Learning and Lead Faculty for Distance Learning at Jones College in Jacksonville, Florida, knows that some faculty dislike distance education. DeFalco sees this opposition as the natural inter-generational struggle over an emerging technology. The opponents are older, technophobic professors on the verge of retirement. Their departure will open opportunities for younger, technologically savvy faculty–the cadre of faculty who will shape the future of higher education.

However, there are signs that distance education might not be a springboard for a new generation of faculty. Instead, distance education may provide colleges and universities the option of running their empires without faculty. Faculty, on the other hand, no matter how receptive to distance education, may find colleges and universities no longer need their services. This transition to a faculty-free zone may sound alarmist, but there are signs of an incipient move in this direction.

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Distance education exacerbates this absence of solidarity. Adjuncts who teach from their PCs at home have little contact with other faculty. Aside from occasional contact with a department chair, adjuncts who teach on-line are on their own.

The most obvious sign is that distance education weakens faculty by

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