• Just Visiting

    John Warner is the author of Why They Can't Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities and The Writer's Practice: Building Confidence in Your Nonfiction Writing.


Students Are Not ATMs: An Addendum

A short follow-up to yesterday's post.

January 11, 2021

On the heels of posting yesterday’s blog about institutions treating students at ATMs as part of what I call a “cruise ship mentality” in which customers are lured in before being subjected to mandatory fees and upselling, I saw this tweet from Ian Bogost in which he reveals that it will now cost institutional customers cold hard cash to keep students from being served ads as part of the Canvas discussion app:



In this case, we see the mentality at work from the edtech company on down. Once the school is captive to a particular platform or app the provider will squeeze additional revenue out of the institution, in this case, by charging a fee to keep ads off of the platform. As Bogost notes in a later tweet, a departmental license for 3000 students costs $12,000.

It’s a quasi-freemium model, and it seems to me inevitable that a huge part of the future if we do not actually address the bankrupt and decrepit funding model of public higher ed will be institutions acting as passthroughs, feeding advertising to students, while collecting data and sending it back the other way.

The later part of the equation is already happening, of course.

I am very much a pragmatist, but either institutions do the work of education or they don’t. 

Being servant to the revenue gods and tapping student pocketbooks, or monetizing their eyeballs attention, or whatever is the road to hell, as this point not even paved with good intentions.


Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.


We are retiring comments and introducing Letters to the Editor. Letters may be sent to [email protected].

Read the Letters to the Editor  »

Back to Top