Globalizing Flexible Work in Universities: Socio-technical dilemmas in internationalizing education
We engage with and respond to the debate raised by this theme issue of the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning with a particular question in mind: namely, as universities are using new labor displacing technologies to export degrees to meet the international demand for higher education, how is this influencing – negatively and positively – the workers involved? Contemporary transitions in political and economic globalization are being used to press universities into becoming ‘transnational businesses,’ seemingly driven by a primary concern for marketing educational commodities. The neo-liberal politics driving these currents in universities are increasing the multiple online and offline networks. These local/ global meshworks engage the labors of a small but growing percentage of the world’s population (Singh, 2002, pp. 217-230). Writing this paper at Jilin University in China, we find that many of our academic colleagues and students have limited access to a personal desktop computer, the Internet, and email. They must pay for timed access to their email accounts and for downloading attachments. They do not have access to high-speed data networks. A timer indicates how long it will take to open and send emails. Around us, construction workers are building massive facilities to house the burgeoning on-campus student population. Their offline education is being supplemented – but not replaced by ever-advancing online technologies.
Copyright (c) 2005 Michael Singh, Jinghe Han
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