Friday, March 29, 2013

A Whiff of Panic: Technological Unemployment in the Academy

Academics are starting to notice the threat posed by the MOOC. See, eg., here, here, here and here.

The fear, I think, is well founded. The response, at this point, much less so. There is a lot of denial, bargaining and anger at this stage of their grief. Jonathan Rees, a history prof at CSU Pueblo, is the original voice here.

Getting back to my original subject, did you ever notice that you never hear anything like this from superprofessors? Just once, I want to hear a superprofessor say (or write):

“My MOOC is a pale imitation of the class I teach on campus.”

or

"The fact that I have a 90% drop out rate in my MOOC partially reflects the fact that many of my students find me boring.”

Why don’t you hear/read obvious statements like these? Ego, again.

Here is another theory. Maybe they don't believe the first statement. Maybe they didn't intend to teach their on campus course on a MOOC. At least one Prof has noted that his class at Standford had many students who found they preferred the online to the in class version.

As to Prof Rees's second hypothetical confession of a MOOC teacher, maybe they just found that they agreed with the philosophy that since the classes are free, anyone can try them out, and drop out if they find them too hard, too easy, or not suitable for their present needs. What a concept!