David Noble

David Noble
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David F. Noble is a critical historian of technology, science and education. He is best known for his seminal work on the social history of automation. He currently teaches in the history department at York University in Canada. In 1983 David Noble founded the National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest with Ralph Nader and Al Meyerhoff to try "to bring extra-academic pressure to bear upon university administrations who were selling out their colleagues and the public in the pursuit of corporate partnerships."

"Education Commoditization," an Interview with David Noble

"Education Commoditization," an Interview with David Noble
Wild Duck Review

David Noble Biography: David Noble is Professor of History at York University in Toronto, and, recently, the Hixon/Riggs Visiting Professor at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. His has taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Drexel University, and was a curator of modern technology at the Smithsonian Institution. His books include The Religion of Technology: The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention; America by Design: Science, Technology, and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism; Forces of Production: A Social History of Industrial Automation; A World Without Women: The Christian Clerical Culture of Western Science; and Progress Without People: New Technology, Unemployment, and the Message of Resistance.

Casey Walker: Will you begin by describing the historical context for today’s restructuring of higher education top to bottom with the commoditization of research and instruction?

David Noble: Yes, I’ll back up a bit because many people ask, “Well what’s new, haven’t the universities been doing this for a long time?” My first book, America by Design: Science, Technology, and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism, gives a history of the rise of the electrical and the chemical industries from the end of the 19th through the first third of the 20th century alongside the transformation of many institutions, including higher education. Two chapters titled “Higher Education as an Industrial Process,” draw ties between the hiring of college graduates in significant numbers, primarily engineers, and the attempts of industry to refashion education to meet employment needs and to gain control of scientific invention—the lifeblood of industry. In fact, these new companies were called science-based because, for the first time, their welfare depended upon keeping abreast of and getting control over ever-new developments in science.

David Noble: Private Pretensions: The Battle for Canada’s Universities

David Noble: Private Pretensions: The Battle for Canada’s Universities

In our day, all that seems to remain of the historical struggle between the competing visions of socialism and capitalism, between the collective interest and the individual interest, is the euphemistic “public sector” versus the “private sector.” But while most of the vitality has been drained from this revolutionary residue, some meaning yet remains unspoken, suggesting rival conceptions of society. So, locating our institutions in one or the other of these categories, public or private, carries a larger significance and merits our close attention.

David F. Noble: Factorías de diplomas digitales

David Noble: Factorías de diplomas digitales

Factorías de Diplomas Digitales I - La Automatización de la Educación Superior

Factorías de Diplomas Digitales II - La inminente batalla sobre la Teleformación

Factorías De Diplomas Digitales III - Se Marchitó La Rosa

Factorías de diplomas digitales IV - Ensayo para la Revolución


David Noble: Factorías de Diplomas Digitales I - La Automatización de la Educación Superior
Título original: Digital Diploma Mills I
Autor: David F. Noble
Origen: Distance Learning
Traducido por Jain Alkorta y revisado por Germán Leyens, septiembre de 2000

© David F. Noble, octubre de 1997

Recientes acontecimientos en dos grandes universidades norteamericanas apuntan rotundamente a que nos hallamos en una nueva era de la educación superior en la que las facultades de la academia se adentran vertiginosamente en la cultura de la automatización. A mediados del periodo estival la administración de la UCLA lanzaba su histórica "Iniciativa para la Mejora de la Enseñanza", regulando la ubicación en red de todos los cursos de las artes y las ciencias que en ella se imparten, para el comienzo del trimestre de otoño, convirtiéndose así en la primera gran universidad en reglar el uso obligatorio de la tecnología de las telecomunicaciones en la docencia superior. En colaboración con diversas empresas privadas (incluida la Times Mirror Company, empresa matriz de Los Angeles Times) la UCLA ha llegado aún más lejos al crear su propia filial con ánimo de lucro, la Red de Educación a Distancia, presidida por un antiguo rector de la UCLA, con el fin de comerciar con la ciber-educación.

David Noble: The Future of the Faculty in the Digital Diploma Mill

David Noble: The Future of the Faculty in the Digital Diploma Mill
Academe, September-October 2001

Distance education may not make money, but with the military’s help it may restructure the university—and not in the faculty’s interest.


Since I began chronicling the impact of distance education on the academic community more than four years ago, events have confirmed the concerns and followed the course outlined in my original manifesto and elaborated in later articles. Nearly all postsecondary institutions have climbed aboard the digital bandwagon in search of new revenues and in fear for their piece of higher education turf, only to discover the hard way that the bloom is already off the rose. At the same time, in league with their private-sector partners, they have secured taxpayer subsidy of their online efforts, thereby partially offsetting their losses and the absence of any real market demand. In addition, university administrators have learned that the technology of online education, whether cost effective or not, provides a way to restructure their institutions to their managerial advantage. Meanwhile, faculty resistance to this restructuring, and to the deprofessionalization of the professoriate that it entails, has increased and gained coherence and confidence.

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