How to Attract the Igrnorant
Q: How can one attract the ignorant?
A: Open a university.
In a classic "marriage made in heaven," online universities attract a market no one else has served. This market includes those who 1) need the advanced degree, and 2) cannot afford the time, disruption, or cost of returning to those Ivy-covered halls.
Since more and more ignorant employers (e.g. government) set academic certification as their first screening hurdle, it is less important that the credential holder know the material than that s/he possess the credential. S/he must only produce the precious paper. (There exists no one in personnel nor anyone in the hiring department who can ask the appropriate questions that would reveal an academic fraud.)
This academic requirement was far easier to fulfill 20 years ago when the diploma-mill ran at break-neck speeds. (I confess, I truly wanted a Ph.D. in Samoan Art History from Pacific Western University. But alas, they were prosecuted before I could find the time to send the fee.)
The attraction remains; one side needs meaningless credentials, another side strongly desires to confer them. Some busy-body has decided, though, that these diploma mills needed oversight. (It was probably the same government agency who lit the fire under the industry by demanding meaningless credentials as a prerequisite to working for the government. The irony is delicious.)
The result is a tight-wire of conformance vs. expedience. So long as enough coursework appears legitimate, some coursework can remain worthless. Balance is met: the veneer of legitimacy covers the wormwood.
And don't for a moment think this indictment rests solely on the online educators. Brick-and-mortar -- formerly venerable and respected -- universities face the same challenges that pit fiscal and academic forces against each other. I estimate that the level of tripe in traditional universities is lower, but the tripe exists, and for the same reasons. Costs.
Those seeking nothing more than the credential will do what they must do and celebrate the end of the road when the credential is conferred. Those seeking real enlightenment will have a much smaller celebration at the receipt of credentials, but then begin the lifelong climb to the higher ground.
As always, the burden for betterment rests on the students's shoulders, not on the professor. It is this way and always has been. Those who attended the ivy-covered halls of traditional university and those who miss every aspect of that experience, save for the poor instruction, are identical in two important aspects.
Firstly, they will both have a certification that means absolutely nothing beyond clicking past that decision gate in HR.
Secondly, they will never be educated unless they personally and eternally dedicate themselves to their own merciless, ceaseless pursuit of knowledge.
My alma mater?