MOOCs are a great opportunity / MOOCs are not a great opportunity.
Get out your daisies folks.
Here’s an interesting perspective from DISSENT magazine:
The MOOC Revolution: A Sketchy Deal for Higher Education
by Geoff Shullenberger
“The evidence suggests that MOOC companies are eager to see themselves in the same messianic terms as their boosters. Udacity’s website describes the company as “on a mission to change the future of education,” while Coursera proclaims that “we hope to give everyone access to a world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few.” Yet these celebrated humanitarian enterprises, currently bankrolled by venture capital, must also ultimately find ways to turn a profit, unlike taxpayer-funded institutions.”
“In a New Yorker article on the Stanford culture of entrepreneurship that begot Udacity and Coursera, Ken Auletta quotes an important Stanford donor repeating the usual cyber-utopian mantra: “We’re on the cusp of an opportunity to deliver a state-of-the-art, Stanford-calibre education to every single kid around the world.””
“Universities are often derided in celebrations of MOOCs as another plodding old-economy “dinosaur” awaiting extinction, but the real breakthrough for MOOCs over the past year or so is that the country’s most prestigious universities are now fully on board.”
“If they continue on their current trajectory, MOOCs will enrich a select class of content aggregators, strengthen the hold of Silicon Valley “cyber-totalism” on our intellectual life, and help perpetuate the dominance of the elite universities at the expense of low-cost public institutions.”
Conclusion: “The institutions that have thrown in their lot with MOOCs are pursuing policies that benefit the well-established at the expense of the poor and vulnerable and compensate for it through ostentatious displays of generosity in the form of free online courses. The “top-tier” colleges are positioning themselves to be primary beneficiaries of a world in which “free” education, bankrolled by advertising and data-mining, is a branded global commodity controlled by marketing experts, engineers, and investors. Those of us who believed in free and open education before it was a Silicon Valley business scheme need to force university administrators and political leaders to discuss whether this is the future we want.”