I always wonder what my outmoded taboos and curmudgeon-triggers will be. As I grow older, what paranoias or prejudices will make young folks roll their eyes the way I tend to roll mine at Nicholas Carr and Maggie Gallagher?
I might just have come across one. I was reading the latest Washington Monthly story roiling the blogosphere – College for $99 a Month. The story notes the arrival of super-cheap online intro courses students can take for college credit (the title’s not a hypothetical), positing that this heralds the beginning of the newspaper crisis era for academia.
I caught myself going into full-on curmudgeon mode – No online learning program can match a good, old-fashioned stint at a real college! Then I reflected on the fact that my undergrad experience – four years living on campus at a private college far from home – was already pretty specialized. Even more specialized than, for example, sitting down each morning to read your (shudder) printed newspaper.
I can imagine all sorts of ways in which cheap college can be a wonderful thing. But my curmudgeon reflex keeps tugging me back to the unintended consequences, the questions of what we’ll lose. So this is what it feels like.