Digital Diploma Mills (by David Noble) LO23405

Arun-Kumar Tripathi (
Fri, 26 Nov 1999 23:37:12 +0100 (MET)

Dear Org-Learners,
Greetings from Germany,

When the distance education is going through a critical phase -following
post (excerpts) is forwarded by EdResource List Moderator via RRE
Newsletter and Prof. Phil Agre. The post is about the fourth part of
Digital Diploma Mills, written by David Noble. I am forwarding the
excerpts from his article to have a clear picture of the full article. If
any member want to read the article in full, please visit
<> or if anyone want to receive
the full copy, then please mail me..because the original article is too
big. Thank you!

Arun Tripathi

Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 07:50:22 -0800 (PST)
From: Phil Agre <>
To: Red Rock Eater News Service <>
Subject: [RRE]Digital Diploma Mills, Part IV:

[I have heavily reformatted this; apologies for any glitches.]

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Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 10:03:03 -0500
From: Johanne Smith <>

Rehearsal for the Revolution

By (c) David F. Noble, November 1999

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
George Santayana

All discussion of distance education these days invariably turns into
a discussion of technology, an endless meditation on the wonders of
computer-mediated instruction. Identified with a revolution in
technology, distance education has thereby assumed the aura of innovation
and the appearance of a revolution itself, a bold departure from
tradition, a signal step toward a preordained and radically transformed
higher educational future. In the face of such a seemingly inexorable
technology-driven destiny and the seductive enchantment of technological
transcendence, skeptics are silenced and all questions are begged. But we
pay a price for this technological fetishism, which so dominates and
delimits discussion. For it prevents us from perceiving the more
fundamental significance of today's drive for distance education, which,
at bottom, is not really about technology, nor is it anything new. We
have been here before.

In essence, the current mania for distance education is about the
commodification of higher education, of which computer technology is
merely the latest medium, and it is, in reality, more a rerun than a
revolution, bearing striking resemblance to a past today's enthusiasts
barely know about or care to acknowledge, an earlier episode in the
commodification of higher education known as correspondence instruction
or, more quaintly, home study. Then as now, distance education has always
been not so much technology-driven as profit-driven, whatever the mode of
delivery. The common denominator linking the two episodes is not
technology but the pursuit of profit in the guise and name of higher
education. A careful examination of the earlier, pre-computer, episode in
distance education enables us to place the current mania not only in
historical perspective but also in its proper political-economic context.
The chief aim here is to try to shift our attention from technology to
political economy, and from fantasies about the future to the far more
sobering lessons of the past. .. Historian David F. Noble is currently a
professor at York University. He can be reached at the Division of Social
Science, York University, Downsview, Ontario M4K1Z1 Canada, (416) 736-2100
ext. 30126. The first three parts of this Digital Diploma Mills series
are available online under "digital diploma mills" or at

[Note from your LO host: The two paragraphs above are taken from a ten
page article at

The last reference does not appear to work.

The "Red Rock Eater Newsletter" can be pretty interesting. ..Rick]


Arun-Kumar Tripathi <>

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