Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Another Branch of That River in Egypt

MOOC critics seem to like an echo chamber - they only want to listen to those who agree with them. Most of them would consider themselves liberals or leftists, and they frequently invoke the anti-capitalist rhetoric of the labor left, but their actual orientation here is purely reactionary. A recent article proclaimed that:

The findings of a recent Gallup survey have rained on the MOOC parade by suggesting that few college and university presidents consider massively open online courses, or MOOCs, as an effective strategy for improving student learning or addressing the fiscal crisis facing many institutions.

This is roughly as surprising as finding out that rabbits don't like coyotes. MOOCs pose a threat to the traditional university, its executives, faculty, and staff. It doesn't say anything about whether MOOCs are liked by students, and the enrollment numbers say they are, or are effective in educating students - TBD.

My personal best guess right now is that the MOOC will not replace the traditional university, but nevertheless radically transform it. Professors may become more like Oxbridge style tutors - or something else competely. But the present professorate mostly doesn't want to hear about it. I have a hint though: closing your eyes and putting your fingers in your ears may keep you from seeing what's happening, but it's still going to happen.