Wisdom of massive open online courses now in doubt: Hennessy critiques MOOCs

March 12, 2014 at 1:13 am 3 comments

I thought John Hennessy’s quote below was remarkable, and quite different from his tsunami rhetoric of just last July.  I was also struck by this quote later in the piece:   “MOOCs are basically the 21st-century equivalent of reading a bunch of books and saying you got a degree.”

“Two words are wrong in ‘MOOC’: massive and open,” Stanford President John Hennessy said in a widely noted interview with the Financial Times.

At Tufts University outside Boston, members of the schools of arts and sciences and faculty in the engineering department approved a policyin December that would allow more Web-based classes to be used toward graduation. But Tufts instructors stopped short of joining the world of MOOCs.

“So much of the big conversation around the country is around these massive online courses, and from our perspective, we don’t see evidence that that’s a model that leads to real learning,” Education Policy Committee head David Hammer told The Tufts Daily, the school newspaper. “If I had 750 students, if I had 7,500 students I’m not going to hear and respond to student thinking.”

via Wisdom of massive open online courses now in doubt – Washington Times.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mgozaydin  |  March 12, 2014 at 5:12 am

    I said also 24 months ago, before Hennesy
    MOOCs are not massive neither open . It is free for a while .
    Registration is massive since just a click is required. Then completion is 2 % .

    Very very simply
    USA and the World need :

    1.- ONLINE courses very well designed by elite universities .
    They do not need to be massive. Just 5,000 or so enrollment all over the World is good enough from cost perspective.
    Elite universities have the best of best klnowledge in the World.
    It is their greatness to SHARE this knowledge with online .
    2.- Since content is good + technology ( Technology of EDX is 100 times better than onliners of the last 20 years ) is good demand will be great so COST will be less than $ 1 per course

  • 2. Mark Urban-Lurain  |  March 12, 2014 at 7:54 am

    In a comment on this very blog well over a year ago I noted that MOOCs are nothing more than textbooks:


    I don’t see Standford knocking on my door to be president 🙂

  • 3. cristi1010  |  February 5, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    MOOCs are very useful for continuous education. You need to be able to learn by yourself. I was able to do that from the age of 18.

    Not everyone can afford to go to Uni every 10 years. I think it also helps some high school students to make an impression on some topic they may study later at a Uni.

    About the graduation percent, there are so many courses and so less time. Sometime you want to check out a course before you commit to it. The only way to do that is by enrolling in it.

    About dumbing down courses to make them for everyone, it would be a sad day.
    I think they are already too dumbed down. In high school we were able to easyly solve the problems from the calification exams at the top Unis from the Western Europe and U.S. because the routine tests in physics, math and chemistry during the school were at least 10 times harder…and all the parents and grandparents said that the curriculum is too dumbed down by comparation with the one they took. Now it is even worse.


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