I’ve written before (a bit grumpily) about all of the hype around MOOCs. I tend to think that the narrative of an inevitable march toward MOOC disruption is overblown. But a few recent developments (and an unrelenting amount of punditry on the topic) have been a bit frustrating to me. To my mind, there are good reasons to criticize the educational value that MOOCs provide and to doubt the prospect that they might totally upend the higher education world, but far too often those good reasons are ignored for a much less rigorous focus on why MOOCs are bad for college professors.
You don’t need to be a teacher to be assaulted by the unbridled enthusiasm that abounds for educational technology these days. Among the biggest recipients of such enthusiasm are Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), which made a splash so big that the acronym became a finalist for Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year.
Don’t get me wrong, MOOCs are fun. I can’t recommend enough Robert Sapolsky's course on human behavioral biology – I got access to a great professor and subject matter that I likely wouldn’t have otherwise.
The problem with all the enthusiasm about MOOCs, though, is that it confuses the excitement of an awesome thing that is being given away with the thrill of watching a genuinely disruptive piece of technology come to market. MOOCs are certainly the former; as for the latter, though, a few recent articles confirm my intuition that the many predictions about the end of education as we know it are more smoke than fire.
YEP-DC is a nonpartisan group of education professionals who work in research, policy, and practice – and even outside of education. The views expressed here are only those of the attributed author, not YEP-DC. This blog aims to provide a forum for our group’s varied opinions. It also serves as an opportunity for many more professionals in DC and beyond to participate in the ongoing education conversation. We hope you chime in, but we ask that you do so in a considerate, respectful manner. We reserve the right to modify or delete any content or comments. For any more information or for an opportunity to blog, contact us via one of the methods below.
MONICA GRAY is co-founder & president of DreamWakers, an edtech nonprofit. She writes on education innovation and poverty.