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#91941 - 04/04/13 03:54 PM MOOCs & the (Alleged) Downfall of Higher Education
Ching Shih

Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1895
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

My Facebook friends list, populated as it is by people in academia, is all a-flutter lately over the growing interest in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Most current MOOCs that I'm aware of are (a) free, (b) open to participants around the world, and (c) not for college credit.

My faculty friends are freaking.the.hell.out about how MOOCs are the beginning of the end and nobody cares about actually learning anything and this is a great way to further marginalize professors and online learning isn't effective anyway and how could anyone be expected to TEACH 7000 students in anything approaching an engaging and useful way, etc. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I think these are fair concerns, and I do worry that higher ed administrators are going to start pushing for credit-bearing MOOCs that cost the same (or slightly less) than "regular" classes -- but we're not there yet, at least not at anything like a large scale.

What we do have, right now, this minute, is a chance for someone who lives in a rural area or someone who lacks reliable transportation options or someone who works odd shifts or someone whose family life precludes her/him from attending more traditional classes to get some intellectual stimulation in a more flexible way. That seems like a good thing to me. It seems like an updated version of extension classes, which universities all over have been offering for close to 100 years, if not longer (In her letters to Avis DeVoto, for instance, Julia Child references extension classes that Paul Child took at Harvard in the 1920s or 1930s).

I decided I wanted to try out the MOOC experience from the inside, so I'm taking a course on Gender Roles in Comic Books that started this week. It's been really interesting and engaging so far. My introvert self is freaking out a bit about interacting with strangers (!!!), but I've been slowly easing into conversations on Twitter and Facebook, and it's been kind of cool. I'm not your average student, of course, but neither are most of the people I've been chatting with either.

TL;DR: I feel like we're getting all pearl-clutchy about hypotheticals without appreciating MOOCs' value at the moment.

I'm curious to know what you-all think. Or whether this is something that only the rarefied denizens of my Facebook feed care about...

#91962 - 05/19/13 11:57 PM Re: MOOCs & the (Alleged) Downfall of Higher Education [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
Ching Shih

Registered: 11/02/01
Posts: 230

Having never heard of a MOOC before I had to search and read about the concept. I can see the concern that MOOCs are causing. Technology is changing the way we interact with the world and that is making several industries,such as the entertainment industry, nervous. I have more concern for higher education than for industry so I do cringe at the thought of major changes that will take away from the experience. On the other hand I fall into one of the categories of people that will benefit from MOOCs. I am a single parent who lives in a rural area, works full time, and still have children at home. I promptly signed up for a course called The Fiction of Relationship and am excited for it to start.
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