By Tamar Lewin
San Jose State University has publicly committed to using online courses to bring in more students — and bring down costs — but its philosophy department is balking. Faculty members issued a blistering statement this week about why they will not use materials from an online course called Justice, taught by Michael Sandel of Harvard, an academic superstar.
Mohammad H. Qayoumi, the president of San Jose State, has pushed his university to experiment with new online technologies through pilot projects with both edX, the nonprofit Harvard-M.I.T. online collaboration that offers Dr. Sandel’s course, and Udacity, a company producing the massive open online courses, known as MOOCs.
But this week, the philosophy department sent Dr. Sandel an open letter asserting that such courses, designed by elite universities and widely licensed by others, would compromise the quality of education, stifle diverse viewpoints and lead to the dismantling of public universities.
“The thought of the exact same social justice course being taught in various philosophy depts. across the country is downright scary,” the letter said.
[ Full article available at The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/education/san-jose-state-philosophy-dept-criticizes-online-courses.html ]