Okay, hear me out. I know you guys will think I'm stupid even suggesting this, but in this blog post I want to discuss the reason online learning is superior to in-person learning.
There is a belief that online learning means complete social isolation. You don't talk to anyone. You don't socialize or talk about books or ideas with classmates. To which I say: Bullshit. You literally have spent the past 18 years of your life building up a social network in your hometown that is more robust than anything else in your life. The reason college even looks like a social experience is because you are placed in an environment with other able-minded kids. The only problem with that is you're an expat of your hometown. You have left your robust 18-year old social network to live four years in a new city while being voluntarily broke, spending money on mandatory housing instead of living in your parent's house in your hometown. Do you know how much rent is? Probably not, you're only 18 years old. Rent is atrocious, it is so expensive in college towns you'll never recover from the debt of paying rent while you're not working even if you're having a "social blast."
The issue is self-reinforcing, because even if you stay in your hometown and study online for free, your social network is going to get rocked. All your friends are moving away to cities to attend prestigious unversities. The cost of these universities is so high they will be obligated to work in cities, your hometown could never provide the salary to pay back your massive student loans. So at age 18, your robust social network is absolutely blasted to smithereens. I'm even willing to suggest this is the reason most kids suffer with mental illness during college, because they're placed in a stupidly expensive and hence stressful environment when they're earning no income, and they're supposed to talk to their friends through thefacebook.com. Bullshit, I say! Stay in your damn hometown with your friends and start careers in your hometown along with all your other friends, who study online debt-free rather than moving to cities all over the frickin map. If you're smart enough to go to college, and you don't think your hometown has jobs for the profession you want to go into, start a damn company at age 22. Don't think you need a super duper credential to get a job that pays well in order to pay off your super duper credential. Just live in your hometown, get a debt-free computer science degree, then be a remote programmer in your hometown and socialize with your friends who didn't move away either. The idea that you need to move to a new city in order to learn UNDERGRADUATE material (which isn't even that difficult, i.e. you just need to read a lot of books) is what is tearing American youth up and spitting them out into a world of student debt crises. It's the silliest idea I've ever heard.
I moved back to my hometown after college because I want to be a contributing member to my hometown, not the city where I went to college. This was a good choice, as I avoided debt during the Great Recession even while unemployed. The safety net in your hometown is more robust than anything the counseling center at your private university can offer you. It is not natural to move to a big city to read some books you can read free online, and then move to an even bigger city to pay off the massive debt your accrued in your previous big city. No wonder people hold on to "social networking" sites as if they were the most precious thing in the world. People literally don't have any friends in real life because they're moving around to a different city every four years. It's bullshit to keep this bad strategy in full effect when online learning is so good and affordable and all hometowns have the internet. You can work remotely as a programmer if there are no programming jobs in your hometown. You do not need to move away from your hometown, unless you want to. You sure don't need to go into debt just to justify the move to yourself.
Now, this is the point where I get harsh. Do you have "fake friends" at work? i.e. the people you aren't really friends with, but the people you consider your friends just because you work with them and they're relatively nice? People you would eat lunch with, even every day, but not anyone you would socialize with if you ever left your job and got a new one? This is what college acquaintances are. They are "fake friends" in the sense that your friendship is so tied to this silly system of going into debt for such a superfluous thing as a "prestigious degree" that it's basically a job. Your college friends are just "fake friends", they are friends and you are glad they are your co-workers, but once you move to a different job they are people you will probably never socialize with again. Contrast this to your high school friends. They are the people you grew up with, the people whose house you played in and families you know. How many family members of your college friends you know? Absolutely zero. I met one brother during my five years as an undergraduate. These are not the robust social networks that get pitted as a reason why in-person learning is better than online learning. These are "fake friends." To think that you're going to develop more as a person attending this silly ritual known as college just because you're forced to talk about books for a few hours a week than if you stay in your hometown and talk about books with your actual friends, is ridiculous. If all your friends stay in your hometown, and your friends branch into new social networks, your social network is also going to grow to such a degree that you'll find an academy worth of friends to talk about books just because your hometown friends are studying, working, or socializing in new ways now that you're out of high school. Who do you enjoy talking about books more? Your "fake friends", i.e. classmates in your Great Books class, or your actual friends that you grew up with and, sure, maybe the discussion is a little less high brow than in a Great Books conference, but has much more meaning and permanence? Who cares that you understand Kierkegaard better thanks to your prestigious university degree when you only socialize with your high school friends through thefacebook.com? Give me a break. I'm just saying, thefacebook.com came out of Harvard, and that's the shitty scene where shitty scenes like thefacebook.com (and all other social networks) thrive, because mandatory "fake friends" requires the performativity of enjoying your fake friends. Thefacebook.com is fake friends taken to its logical extreme. Fake friends is the most important thing in the world to a college student, that's why they're all on online social networks instead of living life meaningfully. You've lost all your real friends, because you all thought the only way to succeed in life was to get a prestigious degree, and you're left living in a city where you know no one, working in an academic job with cutthroat coworkers who don't give a crap about you, spending your fridays on thefacebook.com instead of spending it with the friends with whom you grew up.
So when people tell me that in-person classes are better than online classes, I demand to know the caveats. First, you're leaving your real friends in order to enact this performativity of REALLY LIKING YOUR COLLEGE FRIENDS SOOOOO MUCH (through some shitty social network online) because you had to move away. You're going deeper and deeper into debt when you could just be reading the same books and learning the same things free from the stacks at your local public library. Your professors hate you in secret because you're reeling from the reality of leaving your real friends for no reason other than you've been brainwashed you'll be a failure if you don't get an expensive university degree, and maybe (JUST MAYBE) struggle a bit mentally in terms of your ability to succeed in your classwork (for a look into into the pretentious heart of professors, just read the blog "Rate Your Students" online). The idea that the appropriate action for a group of smart high school friends is to separate permanently and go to different colleges in different cities WHEN THE REASON YOU CAN EVEN DO THAT IS BECAUSE YOU HAD A DEVELOPED AND MATURE SOCIAL NETWORK IN HIGH SCHOOL is problematic. Instead you could just self-educate yourselves in the fairly easy undergraduate material then start a business together in your hometown, is why the student debt crisis is a crisis and not just a curious earmark of history. This system is bullshit, and the same reason people buy luxury goods is the same reason your high school friends disappeared on you at age 18, only to appear as 100px*100px avatars on thefacebook.com. It's not their fault, it's just the bullshit consumer culture we live in, where expensive goods have to be paid by high salaried jobs that are only acquired by getting a high prestige university degree, which means believing in-person classes are infinitely better than online learning.
"Online learning" is a travesty, people say (mostly professors). The reason is because those people sold their soul to get their professorial positions. They have no friends, they're living in some weird place they didn't grow up in. They don't like teaching kids, they don't like the kids because they don't understand what it means to have a cogent hometown culture of whom those kids are a part. It's just blasting through "opportunity" after "opportunity" -- "enlightening the townies" -- collecting their stupid paychecks while ruining kids lives with the money they sap from them through non-bankruptable student loans. That's a broken system, and personally I am much more of the opinion that getting a college education without EVER interacting with a college professor is the REASON I'm such an advocate of online learning. College professors are horrible people, truly some of the worst people I have ever met in my life. They are so unempathetic you truly feel as if they hadn't come from rich family they would be psychopaths ruining peoples lives as terrible managers at a local fast food chain. The difference between a good manager and your professors is like night and day. Managers are saints compared to professors. Managers expect quality from you, professors view everything you do as just proof that they are soooo smart and all these so-called "gifted" students who SOMEHOW got into college are soooo stupid in comparison to their inherent brilliance. These people need to shrivel up and stop getting phat paychecks from innocent kids who just want to contribute to society and learn a few things. The transfer of wealth from innocent kids to weirdo liberal arts professors is one of the greatest problems in the world today. Almost every interaction I had with a professor was just horrible while I was in at a liberal arts college, it's unbelievable how different the real world is compared to liberal arts school. Professors truly stop at nothing to try and destroy your life. So when people tell me you can educate yourself online and NEVER INTERACT WITH A SINGLE PROFESSOR, I don't say "oooooh, it'll never replace in-person learning." I say "HELL YES, EDUCATION WITHOUT THE PROFESSOR ATTACHED TO IT IS THE BEST IDEA EVER!!!" Strip the academy from the professor, make it impossible for them to even communicate with kids, and you are saving the world from immense suffering and pain.
Replace the professor with your social network from high school, which is still in-tact because you're all studying online in your family's home from age 18-22 and you're all next door neighbors. Your high school friends are INFINITELY better professors than the mercenaries that pass as 'professors' today. I promise you I've learned more from my high school friends than from any professor I paid tens of thousands of dollars to a year. I wish I could give my high school friends tens of thousands of dollars instead of my so-called professors. When's the last time you "professed" to your professor, instead of your best friends? They're the real professors. You haven't met the most pathetic creature in the world until you've interacted with a liberal arts professor as a subservient student. You don't need a professor to explain a book to you. My experience shows they don't even understand it themselves. You can just read it yourself and understand the book better. You can ask your friend to read the book, and then a week later discuss your questions with them. What the point of discussing books when you have zero social context with your professors or classmates? Your professors know nothing about you, your college classmates know nothing about you. Only your real friends can take a book and contextualize it for your life in a meaningful way. Throwing money at it won't fix that problem, it's inherent to the system of university. Education requires context, and only something that happens IN YOUR HOMETOWN is going to have that context. Everything else is charades.
You can share in the process of educating yourself among your hometown friends from age 18-22, then start a company in your hometown when you "graduate" with your debt-free computer science degree from UoPeople at age 22. The idea that a professor makes the education is simply outsourcing. You don't need to outsource your education. Free books (library genesis) and free lectures (YouTube) are really all you need to self-educate. Bonus if your friends still live next door to you.
The fact that people haven't come up with a way to socialize with friends over books without the intervention of the mercenary called a professor is the reason lives are being destroyed over student debt. Holmschooling is a great solution to the notion you need to uproot yourself and move all over Dodge just to "succeed" in the world is the sort of lapse in critical thinking that creates horrible people like liberal arts professors who prey on these circumstances like vampires. These people lack critical thinking (despite purporting not to), and are profiting off the system that exploits innocent kids who succeeded in high school BECAUSE of their social network they developed during their first 18 years. The reason you're successful enough to get into a "prestigious" university is STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU: ITS YOUR HOMETOWN FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND YOUR CULTURE OF EDUCATION UP UNTIL THAT POINT. Don't leave it right when things are getting good because you think you'll wind up working at a fast food joint if you don't. Have some self-confidence and make the choice of your real friends over professors who exploit any weakness for cheap thrills and fake colleagues who are trying to generate enough cultural capital to keep their academic lives going through and through grad school and beyond, not realizing there's no carrot at the end of the stick. Fuck that, if you can't get a PhD online (debt-free), then getting a PhD ISN'T WORTH GETTING. The only things in life worth getting are things that don't put yourself into debt. If something requires you to go into debt, it's a PYRAMID SCHEME and not an actual respectable thing to do. There is no such thing as "Good Debt." You either have enough money to pay for it up front or you don't.
Your hometown is so much more important than a prestigious degree. The more kids realize this and stay in their family homes next door to their best friends who are doing the same, to study online for free from 18-22 and then starting businesses in their hometown, the better!
I laugh when people say in-person education is better. How is education anything other than a personal process? All education is "in-person", because the only other person that should be involved in your education is you. You are inherently "in-person." You can't outsource your education by paying other people to talk about books with you. You need to talk about books with your hometown friends, when you have zero debt hanging over your head and are stressed free and holding reading discussions at your local park (or are instead making great money as a computer scientist with tuition reimbursements to pay completely for your online studying or book budget). Guess what? Books are flipping free on the internet. You don't need to go to a different city just to read some books. You can library genesis them, Perlego them, or just ask for them at your public library through interlibrary loans. You don't need to spend a cent to educate yourself, let alone pay the salary of someone who doesn't give a shit about you and whose life is dedicated to "the life of the mind" in words only because they're working SO HARD grading papers (lol) while getting paid shit because universities exploit everyone, so they're miserable people and want to make you miserable too as a hazing ritual. Separate the wheat from the chaffe and just read the books online for free. Library Genesis/Perlego/Archive.org is one of the most important inventions ever, because it breaks the brain washing we have in our world that being smart requires spending massive amounts of money on paper books and classes. Guess what? Being smart means you don't need to spend a cent on education! That's the reason you're smart, you don't need to outsource a single damn thing! Because you can teach yourself from open source/free/online materials. You don't need a professor, because you don't want to become a professor anyway. Professors are in a cult. They behave very weirdly, and you wind up feeling very sorry for them. You don't want to interact with cult members rather than your life long friends, trust me. Cut the fat from your life and live the life you want to live, not the life these cult members want you to live.
The more you realize postmodernism is bullshit and liberal arts professors are cult members at the People's Temple of Postmodernism and Foucault, the more you realize that online learning, with its promise of NOT being in-person education and NOT being anti-science, is a WHOLE LOT BETTER. Anyone who WANTS to go to college in order to make PHAT CASH at a job in a city (I promise you, they say they don't want to be a professor for money alone but it is the reason they are professors) is probably not the type of person who is going to be a good friend. They are brainwashed and don't give a crap about the people whose lives they have unearned control and authority, and they are enacting the social script that a person who is brainwashed in that way behaves. And it is a destructive social script, like all anti-social scripts. To think that you should leave your hometown and go a hundred thousand dollars in debt just to interact with these messed up people is really lacking critical thinking (from both students and parents, who should know better).
Stay in your hometown. Live at home and study online from age 18-22. Get a UoPeople computer science degree even if you want a liberal arts degree instead. Read the books you want to read through Library Genesis or Perlego in your free time while studying CS at UoPeople. Take an extra year to get your degree if that allows you to study more literature than you would otherwise. Get a debt-free CS degree no matter what type of career you actually want to do in life. Live in your hometown with your real friends.
Liberal arts is a great hobby to have, but not a good degree to have. The fact that liberal arts college scoff at the idea of missing out on in-person education is one of the reasons the liberal arts college degree is a bad idea. If something can't be made free and open source through technology, it has no purpose in the modern world. Don't misrepresent me to think I'm saying the liberal arts has no purpose. Anyone can read Great Books free through their public library or LibGen. But since a liberal arts "education" (i.e. college) can't be digitized for free and made open source, your actual free option -- public library + LibGen -- is better. That's because things that enrich your life -- books, movies, music, culture -- should only cost about $15 a month in the digital world we live in where file replication is free and easy. Paying anything more than that is speculation in an attempt to get returns on something in exchange for the cultural capital of consuming a "luxury" good such as physical classes. You're paying people more money in hopes that you earn more money in return due to having a good that is not $15 a month. Paying more money to get paid more in return is also known as a PYRAMID SCHEME. In this day and age, education costs $15 a month, period. If you're paying more than that, you're buying into a pyramid scheme. Or just hoping you're going to get laid.
It's amazing how fruitful the world can be to computer scientists, who have built a completely free computer science self-education pipeline through the hard work of volunteer authors and programmers. I truly believe open source computer science education is the eighth wonder of the world, in which a plentiful life where you can retire from a working career in ten years after paying absolutely nothing in education costs to get to the point where you can be employed as a computer scientist. No other department has that, and when people ask me where to learn to program, do you think I point them to their local university, who charges $5000 every four months? No, I point them to open source OER or cheap EdTech like Raspberry Pis or Treehouse. It's because to do otherwise would be to ignore the BEST UNIVERSITY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD called the internet. HARVARD SUCKS in comparison to the internet. THE IVY LEAGUE is a joke compared to the internet. For the cost of broadband, you can get the BEST EDUCATION IN THE WORLD. HOW MUCH DOES THE BEST EDUCATION IN THE WORLD COST? Well, it's a lot less expensive than Harvard! It's about $30 a month! Free if you use the public library's broadband connection. Why would I ever tell someone not to go to the best education in the world for an inferior version that just so happens to cost about 200 times as much per year! To think you can learn more at Harvard in a year than a year studying on the internet using LibGen, OER, your public library, or Perlego just doesn't match with logic or reality.
I realize that people don't understand open source, and so for that reason don't understand that computer science education is free on the internet. Everything is free on the internet, or else $15 a month for the deluxe version. People have built a university for computer science that is the best in the world, and yet it's free on the internet. To complain that this free university doesn't have professors is to miss the forest for the trees. Somehow, there are tons of people who are living successful lives as internet-educated computer scientists, who are so debt free they can retire after 10 years of work with a high savings rate, yet the message still isn't getting through to all potential students that university is deprecated and they should just get a CS degree from UoPeople no matter what they want to do in life. Am I concerned? No, I know this will be the path of the future in just a few years time. It's impossible to argue with open source when it's literally taking over the world. Good engineering and efficiency just overwhelm any other consideration, including "in-person" classes. If you want in-person classes, start an in-person class with your old friends and new in the living room of your house. Have a syllabus and read books on Perlego. This isn't rocket science, if you view something as important, act upon it. It's just that this important thing doesn't need to cost anyone any money, it should be $15 a month because everything in the world is now $15 a month. Spotify is $15 a month. Perlego is $15 a month. College education is $15 a month. Does moving to a big city in order to read physical books in a gothic library $15 a month? I friggin doubt it. Does living in your family home and starting a reading group with your hometown friends you've known your entire life cost $15 a month? Yes. Public domain books are free. Open source OER is free. It costs nothing to ride your bike to your neighbor's house for a weekly reading group. That's what holmschooling is. It's understanding that open source has changed the world by solving a whole lot of problems. One of those problems is education. Education is $15 a month, period. Nitpicking and including "add-ons" like in-person discussions in completely different cities with people you don't know is almost so unnecessary as to be pathological. You don't need to do anything related to education that requires you do something you can't do on your bicycle. If you can't ride your bike from your family home to college classes, you shouldn't take that college class. If you have to fly on an airplane and pay rent when you don't have an income to attend classes because you view it as the only path to success in life, you shouldn't take that college class. It's just that simple. Online learning is possible on just a bike. That's the sniff test for education in 2020. Just buy a Raspberry Pi and sit back and work your butt off until you're employed in your hometown for just a couple hundred dollars a year. Your friends will still be near you, you'll be able to contribute to the community that raised you, and you'll find that success doesn't require an expensive piece of paper certificate. Education is something that you do on your own with friends, your neighborhood, and computers and bikes. To think it requires debt it untrue and morally wrong.
Ignore open source at your own peril. Open source doesn't require professors and gothic libraries and lecture halls. Open source exists on a $55 Raspberry Pi and results in financial independence in your thirties. You can choose the life of a traditional academic if that's what you prefer, but you're hoping that future education won't be 100% online, 100% free, and 100% open source. That's not a bet I'm willing to take, after reading the writing on the wall through my research as an art historian with a focus on the sociology of education who also happens to be a computer scientist. When a Spotify for Books comes out (and Perlego makes a good first attempt), the gloves are coming off and you'll find what you went hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt for has been replaced with an app for $15 a month. This will obviously cause some strong emotions, but if you don't understand that everything can be digitized will be digitized and is bound to become free or just a few dollars on the internet, maybe even paid for through a banner ad, you probably aren't actually an intellectual, no matter how harsh that sounds. For all the "culture" these people with PhDs have studied and proven themselves to deserve, they don't realize that computer science is in the driver's seat of world wide culture. This is a good thing, not a bad thing, no matter what these luddite cultists say. Culture has always been the same as technology, and good culture is always developing out of good technology. The fact that they'll have to find new jobs doesn't change the fact that open source has won. Rather than perpetuating a system that demands huge debt and essentially slavery, they will be replaced by a system that demands freedom and liberty and no money. That's because that's the trajectory of humankind, to replace slavery with freedom and liberty. People will look back at the academic system we had when I was a kid as a form of oppression. Professors are both perpetuators and victims of this oppression. So when people say online learning lacks in-person classes, I simply respond that in-person classes supported a system of oppression that affected all of humanity. It has been replaced, never to return. If you think that is bad, my guess if you're a liberal arts professor. Maybe you should take the time to study some computer science instead of postmodernism for a change.
The only gatekeeper to your education is YOU. A professor, no matter how hard they try, can never be your gatekeeper. That's because you don't need a professor to learn. A recording of a professor substitutes just fine. A recording can't gatekeep, can't tell you you're not living up to your potential, can't tell you how disappointed they are in you. Because the only gatekeeper when it comes to education is the gatekeeping you enact upon yourself, whether that means not living up to your potential or disappointing yourself. The only person to make those judgments is yourself, not somebody who's known you for five weeks. Online learning is gatekeeper-less, and the fact that it's not in-person is one of its best justifications. No one else can gatekeep your education except yourself. The only way you can gatekeep yourself is to go so far into debt paying gatekeepers that you can't fund your own self-education. That's a choice a disturbing amount of people have chosen. Unschooling is a choice to take control of your education and put it in the hands of your hometown community that you trust and have grown up in instead of a slick university that has well-designed lookbooks and that's the reason you're giving them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Teaching yourself at your public library is free. Teaching yourself through Library Genesis is free. When you're employed and maxing out your 401k and IRA every year in your twenties and putting the spare dollars into your brokerage account, you're not going to care that you missed out on interacting with professors for a few years. They don't give a shit about you, and you shouldn't give a shit about them. You don't owe them anything. They haven't earned your money or time. They haven't earned their authority. Your efforts are only for you and your community. Think about what you can do for your friends and family when you're financially independent in your thirties. All of this is possible through online learning. To anyone who denies this, doesn't really understand the situation. They don't really know the possibilities that exist on the internet regarding education. It's only going to get better. Many volunteers are working hour after hour ensuring that the internet remains the best university in the world. In my opinion, online DIY educations are the most prestigious degrees out there. Not that I care about prestige, I care about what you do for your community and friends.
The most prestigious university is the one that improves the lives of all humankind the most. In my opinion, that university is the internet. Perhaps you'd like to enroll at this prestigious university? Good news! Tuition is free thanks to the Aupansorse family scholarship. If you benefit from this scholarship, perhaps you'd like to contribute back by creating some more educational content for future students to add to the university "Geitthaub Library." As tuition is free at our university, you can be sure that everyone in the world who turns 18 can benefit from whatever content you choose to donate regardless of their wealth. Within a few decades we hope everyone in the world can enroll in our university and earn a degree. Not bad for a university established just 40 years ago! Let's just say we're quite unlike any of our competitors, we operate on a different business plan thanks to the Aupansorse family scholarships, one of the largest endowments in the world. Our library stack for example, is the most extensive book collection in all of human history, and totally available for instaneous download at the click of a button for all students! We truly believe our school will improve the lives of our alumni more than any other university in the world.
Hard to compete with that. And 100% true. I wish university were justified, books iz kool, but from my perspective it's malignant and enslaving generation after generation to perpetual debt.