By Albert J. Sumell
CD’s replaced cassettes, and they in turn have been replaced by MP3’s. GPS’s replaced printed maps, and they are now being replaced by cellphones, which also happened to have replaced pay phones and many other products. There are lots of examples, but the outcome is the same: New products replace older products, and those older products become obsolete. The new products are better or cheaper or more appealing to consumers. It is not just how capitalism works; it is also why it works.
That dynamic is the wheels on the metaphorical car of the market system. Sure, some people are made worse off as a result, but the benefits to consumers and other producers generally far exceed the costs to those who are hurt. In the end, society as a whole is better off, and the car keeps moving forward. As for those who lose their jobs, well, they can go back to school to get trained with new skills and eventually find another job that is more relevant to the current needs and desires of society.
That’s a description of creative destruction, and basically how I have always taught the process to my students. More than that, I have always believed it to be true. But in the case of MOOCs (massive open online courses), I’ve allowed myself to hold onto some doubt.
[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/article/I-Dont-Want-to-Be-Moocd/138013/ ]