No, Running Online Classes Isn’t Cheaper

A good response to the myth that the labor of an online instructor is less valuable than the labor of an in-person instructor.

Most of a college’s budget is labor. When a physical campus moves to online teaching, it doesn’t save much labor at all. Grading an online student’s paper takes the same amount of time as grading an on-site student’s paper. That’s why it’s silly when the Scott Galloways of the world proclaim that an online class can reach hundreds of students at a time and that therefore the cost savings should be passed on to the consumers. Leaving aside the “students as consumers” idea, the core of a class is the interaction of students with the instructor. Galloway’s model isn’t new; it’s the large-auditorium-with-teaching assistants model that many of us went through in grad school, if not earlier. It’s reminiscent of the MOOC craze of 2012. Yes, technology allows a single presentation to be shared with many more people at once, but viewing a presentation isn’t education. Actual learning occurs in the engagement with the material, and that still requires human interaction. —Inside Higher Ed