This past week, Peter Fairweather completed his first MOOC. The course was The History & Future of Higher Education taught by Cathy Davidson, the cofounder of the Humanities, Arts, Sciences and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC). It was offered by Duke through the Coursera platform.
So how was this Duke MOOC? The experience brought out both the advantages and disadvantages of this learning technology. On the plus side, it involved hundreds of people in a consideration of the challenges and opportunities facing higher education in the 21st Century. On the other hand, apparently due to the way Coursera is set up, this course on the potential of technology to transform learning evaluated participants’ progress via multiple choice quizzes. All in all, it was a very mixed bag: far superior to attending a series of dull lectures, but considerably lacking in substance when compared to reading a good book or participating in an in-person discussion group.
Still, MOOCs have been the focus of much discussion over the past several years, and for that reason, it was worth exploring. And, as the technology evolves, MOOCs are likely to find a permanent niche in lifetime learning.