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Kaplan U’s Dystopia

A pensive¬† looking professor rises to the lectern, removes his glasses and surveys his class. “I stand before you today…to apologize,” he declares solemnly. “The system has failed you, I have failed you.”

A scathing critique of the corporate university? No, it’s the latest television ad blitz by Kaplan University, the U.S.-based on-line for-profit provider. The ad evokes some well-worn and insulting stereotypes of the ivory tower, and issues a call for a private sector revolution in higher education. No more classrooms, no more books, and definitely no more rumpled profs. Just an educational utopia of iPods, laptops and just in time education.

I admit the ad is well crafted. But it leaves out some important details…like just what is education all about anyway? According to Kaplan’s ad, it seems to be mainly about transmitting bytes from corporate HQ to isolated students — er, customers –¬† in bedrooms, kitchens and subways across the world.¬† Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t that a decidedly dystopic vision of the future of higher education?

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