In Times Higher Education, on MOOCs

Times Higher EducationThe London Times interviews me and the cMOOC founders about the state of MOOCs.

There are some important points in the article.  George Siemens criticizes not only xMOOCs’ lack of experimentation, but their lack of currency: “the pedagogy employed by the major providers is “several decades behind” what is needed.”

Stephen Downes slams the resistance to interactivity:

“Moocs as they were originally conceived…were the locus of learning activities and interaction, but as deployed by commercial providers they resemble television shows or digital textbooks with – at best – an online quiz component…”

These are imporant points, which campus leaders and politicians need to heed.

Let me add some more thoughts.

MOOCs as fodder for other classes: this is one function that doesn’t get much media or policy play.  But using free MOOC content (videos, Web pages, etc) in non-MOOC classes (face-to-face, distance learning) should be a no-brainer, if we take some key xMOOC claims seriously – namely, that the content is open (one of those “O”s, remember?), and that each MOOC is some of the world’s top-notch academic produce.  So how does this play out in practice?  Ithaka S+R is researching that now.

MOOCs and adjuncts: in the Times piece I brood about institutions using MOOCs to increase the casualization of academic labor, i.e., replacing tenure-track faculty with a combination of imported class content via MOOC and local instructional support by adjuncts.  I’m glad to see academics discussing this topic, but am not entirely happy.  After all, academia made adjuncts the mainstream instructional force before MOOCs took off.  Where were these critics then?

When it’s not just corporations: the United States State Department is working with Coursera to expand their MOOCs abroad.   Note State’s reasoning here:

For the State Department, Ms. Curtis said, the appeal of the MOOCs is that they can be used to reach students anywhere, exposing them to American universities and college-level discussion, and perhaps spurring a desire to study in the United States.

Note the coy “perhaps”.  When American college enrollment is declining and the under-18 demographic starting to drop, higher education naturally turns to foreign students to keep classes filled.  And now the feds will help – using MOOCs.  They also use Yale’s open classes, it seems.

In a later post I’ll synthesize these and other trends.

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4 Responses to In Times Higher Education, on MOOCs

  1. VanessaVaile says:

    Reblogged this on As the Adjunctiverse Turns and commented:
    A Bryan Alexander post would normally go straight to MOOC Madness, but this KEY paragraph puts it smack dab in Adjunctiverse territory. Too much I suppose to hope that the CFHE’s MOOC “researchers” would notice it:

    “MOOCs and adjuncts: in the Times piece I brood about institutions using MOOCs to increase the casualization of academic labor, i.e., replacing tenure-track faculty with a combination of imported class content via MOOC and local instructional support by adjuncts. I’m glad to see academics discussing this topic, but am not entirely happy. After all, academia made adjuncts the mainstream instructional force before MOOCs took off. Where were these critics then?”

    Also not without coincidence, HE labor organizations are finally seem to be paying attention to adjuncts, even courting them with fervor.

  2. Pingback: George Siemens serendipitously addresses the ‘how and why to #edcmooc” | digital learning styles

  3. Pingback: The Rise of the MOOCs!!! | Daniel Ramirez-Escobedo

  4. Pingback: Web Sciences – faster, rich, responsive, shared … | My Mind Bursts

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