In recent blogs and a brief article in Academe, Open Textbook Publishing, I argued that faculty are wise to embrace their power as authors in the digital age, that they no longer need to rely on publishers:
Thanks to inexpensive or free publishing tools and the ubiquitous nature of the web, the faculty can assume the traditional responsibilities of publishers. Faculty members can build massive, global communities around their pedagogical works by licensing them under an open-culture copyright license and by employing peer-review processes to vet publications.
Well, this week I must acknowledge a corollary to this observation: publishers no longer need academic institutions!
McGraw Hill has partnered with Straighterline.Com to offer Composition 1, Composition 2, and other general education courses that appear to be accredited and accepted by some colleges and universities. Students can take composition for $69 without office hours and discussion forum. If you want those frills the course is $119. The catch is that you also need to pay $100/month to Straighterline.Com while taking courses and purchasing a McGraw Hill textbook.
I suppose I’m revealing my naiveté here. I mean, I knew Pearson Education and the other publishers are funding the development of common core curriculum development, textbooks, assessment, and teacher training. But it never occurred to me that the publishers could just form their own high schools, and colleges, and universities.