A Star MOOC Professor Defects—at Least For Now (CHE)

By Marc Parry

SEPTEMBER 03, 2013

“Mitchell Duneier once was a MOOC star. But today he’s more like a conscientious objector. Worried that the massive open online courses might lead legislators to cut state-university budgets, the Princeton University sociology professor has pulled out of the movement—at least for now.”

“After teaching introductory sociology through Coursera last year, Mr. Duneier extolled his experience in a Chronicle commentaryThe New York Times featured him on its front page,and Thomas L. Friedman wrote about him in a column. One of Coursera’s founders, Daphne Koller, plugged his course in a TED talk.

“But Mr. Duneier has now ceased teaching his sociology MOOC. The change of heart happened, he says, after Coursera approached him about licensing his course so other colleges could use the content in a blended format, meaning a mix of online and face-to-face instruction. That could save the colleges money.”

It may be that the approach that many administrators have taken has changed the impact of the MOOC on education from the possibility “to reach people choosing between a MOOC and no classes at all,” to the opportunity to cut costs and other types of courses and personnel.

About Ryan C. Fowler

Ryan is a curricular fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. He also teaches at Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster Theological Seminary.
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