Woodie Flowers at MIT on edX: Hostile Takeover or Helping Hand?
I strongly agree with Woodie Flowers in this essay he wrote about MOOCs at MIT. His assessment of edX, Udacity, and Coursera is linked below. But I particularly liked this paragraph from later in the essay:
There are many nondestructive and exciting paths that take advantage of digital technology. Let’s pick one of those. For example, we could learn from history. Using textbooks for a few centuries has taught us a lot. They keep the local instructor in the educational process. I believe that “new media texts” are a much better model for helping education. One of the “sweet spots” includes materials that are beautifully produced, feedback enabled, and modular. Think of short, elegant textbook chapters that include automatic homework and quiz grading coupled to analytical data tools. Such a format could continuously improve and morph with the digital world. Successful modules would be the product of a coordinated effort so that they embody a logical progression and use consistent nomenclature.
For good reasons, a MOOC is viewed as a hostile takeover of a course. Since the MITx announcement, I have given presentations on education reform in Spain, Australia, and the U.S. A paraphrased reaction I have heard from other faculties is, “Those big-endowment elitists are trying to undermine our institution.” The MOOC model is an arrogant statement about what a course should be. Educators do not react favorably to being taken out of that decision process and potentially out of the picture altogether.Even for ad hoc learning and continuing education, a whole course is an oversize bite that is not likely to fit users’ needs. In very few instances will the starting point, coverage, and end point designed for MIT be right for other schools.I believe MOOCs are a fad. Right now, their purveyors are preoccupied by a race to volume.