Is Distance Education the Meteor and Are Faculty the Dinosaurs?
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.
The most obvious sign is that distance education weakens faculty by fragmenting them. This is due partly to the fact that so many distance education faculty are adjuncts. English instructor Catherine Daly has taught on-line at West Los Angeles Community College and UCLA Extension. All on-line faculty she knows are adjuncts.
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