"Teaching online fosters the discipline of writing fluently in a way that is not available in any other academic environment. Online lecturers have the essential luxury of work that is as portable as a laptop computer. This makes it affordable to undertake independent research without relying on department travel grants and sabbaticals. A contract affiliation with a university provides an academic email address for correspondence. This is the only credential, beyond their doctorate, that lecturers need in order to pass through the virtual as well as the wrought-iron gates of the academy and recommend themselves to prospective colleagues, conference organisers and publishers."
French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and the spirit of 68 provides the critical paradigm..
"Bourdieu argued that the most interesting French minds at the crux of May 1968 were the "deviant" contract lecturers who were "more or less totally deprived of, or liberated from, the powers and privileges but also the tasks and the responsibilities of the ordinary professor". Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and others were critically relevant to the political and cultural moment even though they were disenfranchised within the academy. Bourdieu wrote: "I need only mention the astonishment of a certain young American visitor, at the beginning of the Seventies, to whom I had to explain that all his intellectual heroes, like Althusser, Barthes, Deleuze, Derrida and Foucault, not to mention the minor prophets of the moment, held marginal positions in the university system which often disqualified them from officially directing research."
And the function of on-line lecturers in a digital world…
"Surprisingly, lecturers teaching online courses also offer the means for the academy to revivify itself, but not in the way that the academy presently imagines (that is, because online lecturers come cheap). Online lecturers with good minds offer a quality of scholarly independence that the university needs if it is to keep its degree programmes relevant in a digitally connected world."
All of which I'd agree with being a supporter of greater use of the web in education. But reading the cynical comments on the discussion thread, it's obvious that the on-line professoriate isn't desired by everybody.
Scroll down the page and Rebecca Attwood has interesting things to say about the U.K. government and a vision for on-line learning. I don't doubt her sincerity, but how does this play out against the ConDem's wish to curb the freedom of the internet? It strikes me that not content with wrecking U.K. society, the ConDems want to ruin the web for everybody.