Why Coursera and Udacity are the worst things that ever happened to MOOCs. (More or Less Bunk)

By Jonathan Rees

[…] “When faculty have no say in things, administrators also spend money on complete and utterly hopeless boondoggles. Perhaps it’s a new building that the university doesn’t need, or an expensive climbing wall for the gym or perhaps it’s an online program that only attracts one paying student from outside the system.

“Rather than being chastened, the same UC administrators who brought the State of California that failed online education program have indirectly brought upon the debacle described in the link my friend Historiann sent me yesterday. This is the great Jon Weiner in The Nation, describing the history MOOC he took that originated at UC Santa Cruz.

[…]

“The many ways in which administrators can destroy a MOOC should be obvious, penny-pinching being the most obvious one of all. Coursera and Udacity are the worst things that ever happened to MOOCs because their business models depend upon teaming up with ambitious administrators to shove a shoddy product (if not with respect to production values, then certainly with respect to educational values) down the throats of both students and faculty alike. I look forward to the inevitable, fast-approaching, post-xMOOC world because it will almost certainly be a period of real pedagogical innovation conducted by people who are more interested in actual education than they are in becoming famous or just making a quick buck.”

It isn’t surprising that MOOCs seemed to be the way administrators might be able to cut costs in higher-education (if perhaps it was discouraging how anxious they were about this being the answer to their problems), but I agree with the author: seeing how the dust is starting to settle, and watching veteran instructors “up their game,” has been—and will continue to be—very interesting.

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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