The Orion

Corporate created learning is squandering creativity

Photo credit: Helen Suh

Photo credit: Helen Suh

Alex Horne

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You log in, read the e-book, do the Learnsmart and take the online quiz. At the same time your professor is simply watching the grades from all their classes roll in. Professors do this via Learnsmart, an online form of homework that is prefabricated by the corporate learning giant McGraw-Hill.

Not lifting a single finger, professors’ jobs are becoming easier as they rely more on technology to do their job for them. Our real professor is McGraw-Hill, the creator of Learnsmart, and luckily this educator is not on strike.

I find it completely uninspiring when I walk into class on the first real day and see McGraw-Hill’s PowerPoint projected. It makes me feel like the professor is solely working for the money. I want my professor to be the most enthusiastic person in the room. Professors who won’t even make their own presentation clearly aren’t.

I also want my professor to be hard working. Professors who let McGraw-Hill do all the talking are simply lazy. They only need to make a presentation once and then it can be used for years to come. How is it that some professors can’t even spend the time to make their own lecture? What are you doing with your time otherwise?

Although only some professors use McGraw-Hill presentation slides, many use Learnsmart. Learnsmart can help, but sometimes they can be overly difficult, tedious and just downright pointless. In addition, the material from Learnsmart frequently isn’t included on tests. This makes it feel like it was all for nothing and just busy work.

McGraw-Hill, although occasionally informative, could never replace real interactive learning. Even reading a textbook doesn’t have the impact a truly passionate professor’s lecture has.

When I initially find out my professor will be using Learnsmart, I think about the $120 that I have to spend in order to access it. We already pay tuition and that goes to paying the professors’ salaries. When a professor turns around and defaults their duties onto an online source, it feels like paying double tuition.

Speaking of money, as many of us know, Chico has a handful of professors that are threatening to strike in April. As professors work less and less, handing their work of to their online colleague, they are simultaneously demanding more money. The average professor in Chico makes $92,953 a year according to Salary.com.

That is quite a bit compared to Chico’s median household income of $42,896. The average professor is making more than double the average Chico resident. That is even considering that professors have three summer months off and one in winter.

While most Chico residents slave away at their day job all year for far less pay, some of Chico’s professors have decided to abandon their classes in pursuit of more money.

However, there is another side of the story. For some classes and some subjects Learnsmart actually makes sense and helps. Also, some students get more out of Learnsmart than others. For me, they are a bit too dry and usually too long to fully receive my attention.

I don’t want to blame all professors for the mistakes of their colleagues. There are professors out there who actually inspire students to learn through great lectures and relevant assignments. I even respect some teachers who use Learnsmart for homework as long as it is relevant to the coursework and the subject is Learnsmart compatible.

Professors genuinely have an amazing job. They are preparing the future generations’ scholars and leaders. It is truly saddening when these intellectuals waste their expertise by handing the baton onto a corporate created learning slideshow.

Maybe people would feel more inclined to support the striking professors if students felt like they tried harder. Professors leaning on McGraw-Hill have gone on for too long. I’m tired of all my homework being Learnsmart’s, I feel like I’ve become a mindless clicking machine. I want to be challenged beyond a multiple-choice assignment designed for the masses.

McGraw-Hill, Learnsmart and slideshows are effectively killing creativity and breeding laziness. Hopefully some day all professors will help students expand their minds by creating unique assignments instead of just defaulting to the easiest route for them.

Alex Horne can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Corporate created learning is squandering creativity”

  1. Jason Conwell on February 17th, 2016 9:39 am

    To the writer, the average salary you cite is a slightly inaccurate representation of the salary that FULL PROFESSORS make. A Full Professor is the highest paid faculty member in the system and they only attain that rank and salary after spending at least 4 years as an undergraduate, another 4-12 years as a graduate student, 6 years as an Assistant Professor, another 5 years as an Associate Professor and are then finally promoted to Full Professor. The median salary of all of your instructors is about $48,000 per year. This number reflects the salaries of Lecturers, Assistant Professors and Associate Professors.

    If you want a good understanding of what salaries your professors make at Chico State and the rest of the CSU, you can find information at http://www.calfac.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/race_to_the_bottom_-_losing_ground_and_losing_faith_final.pdf. You can note that of the 26,000 faculty in the CSU, less than 3,000 earn more than $90,000 per year and over half earn less than $50,000.

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Corporate created learning is squandering creativity