Go to class in your pyjamas!

I saw a television ad last night that promised an innovation in education: go to class in your pyjamas!

That strikes me as an especially silly way to advertise a school.  The “twist” in the ad is that you’re actually “going to class” at your computer, online.  Therefore, you can wear your pyjamas.  Or, presumably, nothing at all.  Or, I suppose, a clown suit.  I guess the idea is that you’re more likely to want to wear your pyjamas, though.

I’m actually a fairly big fan of this new advertisement, mostly because it is enormously less annoying than an older ad for the same website-that-exploits-desperate-undereducated-people-slash-venerable-academic-institution.  The previous ad was a three-minute musical epic (“Get connected, for FREE!  At Education ConNECtion!”) that inspired plugged ears and a compulsive lá-lá-lá-lá-LÁ-LÁ-LÁ-LÁ to drown it out.  The only redeeming characteristic was that the poor actress — who pretended to sing the song while working as a waitress, and then later got to rock out on a microphone — was kind of cute.  It was hard to be attracted to her, though, because you were so embarrassed for her, for being hired to do such a terrible ad.

At any rate, the new ad, which is shorter and involves no incessant badly-rhyming jingles, at least provides some information, the most valuable bit of which being that you can go to class in your pyjamas, if by going to class you mean sitting in front of your computer.

I’m not quite sure whom this ad is aimed at.  I’m aware that the major demographic of Cartoon Network viewers after midnight is not likely to be an especially sharp or ambitious bunch.  Still, I’m inclined to think that the ones who don’t mind sitting at a computer all day probably already have a traditional education, or could get one if they chose.  Conversely, those who might most need an education aren’t likely to be the type  to sit at a computer all day.  There is admittedly some middle ground in the people who spend all day playing World of Warcraft, but most of them do that instead of going to classes in which they are already enrolled, and frankly they’re not going to see the television ad anyway because after midnight they’re already in their pyjamas in front of a computer slaying the Lich King.

All that said, however, I think this new advertisement’s biggest failure is that it advances going to class in pyjamas as an innovation.  This, alone, tells me that none of the people who made that ad ever actually went to university.  How do I know that?  Because people show up to university classes in their pyjamas all the time.  If a class is before noon, you can pretty much bank on someone in there wearing PJ’s, flip-flops, and a jacket.  I’ve seen people show up to class in a swimsuit and towel.  Hell, Berkeley had a guy do undergrad naked.  And, he didn’t do it at home in front of his computer.  He went to class.  Naked.  Apparently he brought a towel to sit on as a concession to anyone who would later use the same chair, which was very thoughtful of him.  The University of British Columbia even has an entire nude beach on campus.

So, a heads-up to the good folks at Education Connection — going to class in your pyjamas is not an innovation.  People have been doing that, and more, for years.  And, in general, I’m going to suggest that if going to class in pyjamas is a major selling point for a program, then maybe the program ought to work at beefing up some of its other credentials.  If you want to lure undereducated Cartoon Network viewers into new-fangled modern internet education, it’s going to take something a little more cutting-edge to entice them.

How about a free World of Warcraft subscription?

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