Opinion

Are Online Professors Real? – ASC.edu

Mike Deville, PhD

I got some pretty bad news this week. My online accounting professor died. But hold your tears; it gets worse. I’m not sure he ever really existed. Sometimes you wonder if those ‘online’ profs are real. I mean, WHO are they really? And why do they go down the rocky ‘online’ prof road? That whole Manti Te’o thing got me wondering even more about my online profs from other semesters.

Let’s break this down. You sign up for a class online and then you start getting emails from someone you’ve never met before, someone you’re never going to meet. I know, so far it sounds like that woman in Africa who needs your help to get the $25 million dollars her husband left her. But at least the emails from your online prof are in normal English and his email address is probably in the USA.

Be honest with me. Have you ever wondered if your online prof really exists? I figure there’s a big building somewhere, maybe in Kansas, and it’s full of people in front of keyboards all typing like crazy. And that’s where your online classes come from! Feeling better about your online classes yet? I thought so….

Or maybe it’s even scarier. Lonely people in cheap rooms in motels in New Jersey sit in front of keyboards ‘teaching’ accounting or comp or pysch or whatever the market calls for. Their ‘boss’ hires them by the hour and pays them almost nothing. When these ‘profs’ run out of cool stuff to say about accounting or comp or whatever, they get tossed out and replaced by younger, more creative ‘online’ profs. (Did I mention that their ‘boss’ probably drives a pimped out Caddy? Just sayin….)

Oh sure, most of these ‘profs’ have masters degrees in something, but that doesn’t mean they get paid much. Just like guitar pickers in Nashville, young and hungry people with masters degrees are everywhere these days. Hey, I don’t want to shock you, but in the old days, young people went to the city for excitement and yes, a lot of them ended up broke, and they had to do some not so nice things to pay the bills. Take a history class and you’ll get your eyes opened. Can you say ‘prostitute’ or ‘pimp’? I thought so.

Fast forward about 100 years and things have improved a lot. These days, young people go to grad school, get masters and PhD’s, and then a lot of them do whatever they have to do to pay off their college loans, things like working in a dingy motel room or strip mall in New Jersey in front of a keyboard as an ‘online’ prof.

But enough about other people’s problems. So my online accounting prof died, or maybe he never even existed. “What’s the difference?” you’re asking? Well, I need that accounting class to graduate. Yeah, I used the ‘G’ word.

This could be the semester I graduate from Camp Alfred. After about five years here, give or take a decade, I’m getting close to leaving this crazy little town and heading out in to the real world. Sure, I’ve changed majors about eight times, but look at the positive side. I’ve probably taken ‘intro courses’ in every major Camp Alfred offers. I could teach half the intro courses on campus.

My resume, however, gets a little weak once we look past the intro courses, but hey, this country had plenty of ‘specialists’ the last time I checked. And a lot of them put their advanced degrees to work in motels in New Jersey or in a human warehouse somewhere in Kansas.

I’ve got some plans, and they don’t include Kansas OR New Jersey. I don’t want to give away too many details right now, but let’s say Dr. Deville does NOT plan to be driving a puddle-jumping Prius in his future. And I won’t be calling crazy but cool little Alfred home forever, either. Sure, I love Terra Cotta and the ‘Jet, but let’s be real. There’s a big world out there, and I want to taste it and swallow it whole, if you catch my metaphor. (I put that in for my lit teacher. I think she was real and not imaginary….)

So as I start what might be my last semester here, I’d like each of you to pause in silence a moment out of respect for all the ‘online’ profs we’ve all had and will have in the future. I think we all know that someday, all SUNY classes will be taught online, probably by anonymous, starving graduate students in a warehouse in Kansas, a strip mall in New Jersey, or even in a distant country where they use ‘English’ to communicate. Until then, IF you have a real teacher and not an imaginary teacher, go by their office sometime and say “thanks for being here, live in Alfred!”

Now I have to go to an imaginary funeral for my imaginary online prof. I imagine he’ll be buried in the imaginary faculty cemetery they’re starting on the side lawn of SDC.

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