One More Time: Will MOOCs Destroy Higher Education, or Improve it?

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ran a piece reporting on efforts of faculty to chastise colleagues from other institutions who might produce Massive Open On-line Courses (MOOCs) that other colleges could use to reduce the need for faculty.

“I don’t see it as particularly my business how people use the stuff once I put it out there,” [Mohamed A. Noor, a professor of biology at Duke University] says—though he adds that if dismantling departments were all a MOOC was being used for, “then I’d stop.”

Really, though, it is a university’s faculty, and not technology vendors and their collaborators, that is responsible for reining in reckless administrative efforts, says Mr. Noor. “Ultimately, faculty at individual colleges need to be the driving force behind what students at their campuses are using,” he says.

“And if that’s not the case” at San Jose State, says Mr. Noor, then MOOCs are “the least of the faculty’s problems.”

This is an interesting case study in creative destruction.  All MOOC’s are doing up to now is putting faculty lectures on line.  The in-class experience should offer much more than just a one-way lecture.  If faculty that are actually in the classroom with students can be out-performed by a video image that is addressing an audience of anonymous thousands, it may indeed be time to dismantle those departments.  On the other hand, maybe all this disruption will  cause institutions to value creative faculty whose teaching involves much more than simply droning away at the front of the class.  You can read the Chronicle piece here.

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