I’ve been feeling disheartened lately. In the news and in life, it seems that online learning has become the mythical goose who laid the golden eggs in the eyes of a funding-starved public higher education system.

You remember what they did to the goose, right? And how that turned out?

One of the reasons I went back to school to get my PhD is because I very uncynically believe that education is transformational on many levels. I decided that if I cared at all about our students and the future of higher ed as we incorporate and rely on technology more, I had to gather the expertise and research experience to gain a voice in the discussion.

I love technology and the ways it provides us to collaborate and talk and experience life in ways that we may not otherwise be able to; I love teaching and being there with my students as they work through difficult issues or texts or problems with their writing; and I truly believe we owe it to all the people in the state to provide students with an exceptional education.

All of this being said, I am old enough and have been around enough work environments that I am cautious in my optimism and hope. It’s an experience that I don’t think people who go straight through school get – the experience of getting your hope and optimism beaten out of you and having to rediscover the source of it in yourself and know that everything is cyclical, everything is tidal, and you can create change by finding new pathways for the change you want to create.

A writer on a political blog I have an affinity for is leaving today for a new job at a different blog, where I assume he will continue to be astute and funny and asinine in no particular order. And he said on his departing post:

If I was “cynical,” meaning, if I didn’t believe that government was important or capable of or needing to play a critical role in American life, I wouldn’t be able to type this blog all day. Who would ever want to read and write about apocalyptic, depressing horror tales hour after hour for years if they thought things didn’t matter, or that they didn’t *have* to be better?

This is the kind of thinking I return to in trying times. It is a kind of personal masochism to get so distressed over something you literally have no control over, but all of this matters. In the blog’s case, it’s about politics; in my case, it’s about education. Even though sometimes I feel like I come from a different planet, I’m not going to stop making the case that the students and their learning experiences are not to be ignored and that we focus only on revenue generation at our peril.

Online education isn’t a gold-filled goose. It’s just a bird.