Reader and commenter truffula sent this along last week. She writes, “A colleague dared me to send the attached page from the January 1960 issue of Popular Science to our [University] President via campus mail. Not that he needs any encouragement from the rabble.” I thought you all might enjoy this glimpse of futures past, since many of you live with its ghosts (“distance education,” on-line classes, ”concurrent enrollment,” and whatever brilliant moneysaving or -making scheme they think of next.)
Will Professor Pushbutton be available to serve on committees, or come talk to your elementary or high-school students about college or careers? What will Prof. Pushbutton say on Constitution Day, or when the League of Women Voters asks hir to give a talk about the upcoming election, or when a sorority asks hir to give a talk for African American or Women’s History Month? What kind of feedback does Prof. Pushbutton give students on their academic work–is ze qualified to teach only lower-division courses? Office hours are probably not a problem, but how is Prof. Pushbutton on e-mail–does ze answer it, or just send automated replies? Will Prof. Pushbutton write letters of recommendation for hir students? What about advising Phi Alpha Theta, or recommending students for Phi Beta Kappa? Is there a film reel that can be loaded so that Prof. Pushbutton can serve as an academic advisor? I wonder if this will work out as well as electronic voting has?
What will they think of next to de-skill labor and depopulate American universities? I know: overhead projectors that can answer e-mail and be equipped with transparencies for Freshman advising! PowerPoint slide shows for students who have problems with a class, or want to file a grade complaint? Throw in a Roomba, and we can fire the janitorial staff, too. (Oh, and students–don’t bother to text or call your moms to complain. They’ve been replaced with wire monkey moms!)