MOOCs everywhere and here

Nice article in the Chronicle

If institutions really wanted to sustain participatory learning, they would already be doing so, for instance, by reducing lectures and high-stakes testing, investing in teaching-intensive faculty and the like. Instead, driven less by cost concerns than a desire to standardize and control both faculty and curriculum, administrations rely more than ever on lectures and tests……

This will be driven by the business model of operations like Coursera, which unlike its competitors doesn’t generate proprietary content. Its sole contribution is to drive consumers into its partners’ courses in exchange for 85 to 90 percent of the revenue.  (Universities, which have been scorched repeatedly in trying to develop for-profit online course content, find it easy to sign up with Coursera because they aren’t putting up any cash.)

I think there are two reasons to be interested in MOOCs. One is to see  whether people can invent ways to scale teaching at low cost. The other is that they bring into sharp focus how little some universities provide in terms of a rich learning environment. Both are useful.

Post by Jonathan Rees

Clinical academic and skin watcher at the University of Edinburgh

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