When your professor is dead, but teaches anyway

A real-life example leads to questions on education, labor, and economic worth. Aaron Ansuini made a surprising discovery with all kinds of implications.

The university appears to have no problem listing a deceased professor as the "teacher" of this particular course.

Yeah, it's a lecture class, but in most colleges, the job of teaching goes beyond lectures. Normally, professors have office hours to discuss issues with students, and they answer questions in and after class and by email. And they give grades. We can assume that there is a TA to grade papers and exams, and maybe even answer questions, but aren't they then the actual "teacher" of the class?

Let's take that another step. What if this isn't just a one-off case of a popular professor dying. With so many classes online, why wouldn't universities just lay off any professor with a body of recorded lectures? We already know that tenure is harder to achieve every year, and schools are relying more and more on adjunct professors who teach a couple of classes on yearly contracts with no benefits. This scheme could save schools even more money! Of course, tuition will remain the same. One prof in the Twitter thread saw this possibility already.

And you have to consider the scenario of a student who doesn't realize the listed professor is deceased, and requests a letter of recommendation. It's hard for me to imagine asking one from a professor I hadn't met, but it's totally possible in a world of social-distance learning. Aaron Ansuini is a proponent of online classes and using technology to make education more accessible, but this is a transparency issue because the students weren't notified of the professor's, um, status.

You can read Ansuini's story at Threadreader or the entire discussion with replies at Twitter.

[via Metafilter]