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Lifting All Boats: How MOOCs Can Bring Higher Ed Together

24 Jul

Steven Mintz, executive director of the Institute for Transformational Learning at the University of Texas System, writes that instead of arguing about whether MOOCs will stratify education or threaten tenure and job security for instructors, educators should see them as an opportunity to rethink pedagogy and instructional design for a new century and a new generation of students.

By Steven Mintz

The slogan most often associated with MOOCs, or massive open online courses, is “free courses taught by leading professors from the world’s top universities.” Some find this vision appealing: unshackling knowledge and those who produce it by expanding access to learning to anyone, anywhere (to paraphrase the second most popular slogan associated with MOOCs). Others view this seemingly noble aspiration with increasing alarm. It raises the specter of faculty displacement, or faculty as free agents competing like sports stars, with only a few slots for the best of the best.

Those concerned with the so-called disruption in the academy are, however, more than just worried about tenure and job security. Online learning, they fear, could lead to something far more sinister: A stratified system of higher education, where elite universities provide a face-to-face education to the privileged few while everyone else receives the 21st century version of correspondence courses, complete with machine grading.

In fact, the now ubiquitous debate inspired by MOOCs is misleading. Students, on campus and off, have long been voting with their feet, rapidly and eagerly embracing all forms of digital knowledge, from lectures on iTunes to TED talks to fully online courses. This is a generation raised on Google and shaped by social networking, all of whom expect everything to be freely available at a time of their choosing.

[ Full article available at Campus Technology: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/07/24/lifting-all-boats-how-moocs-can-bring-higher-ed-together.aspx ]

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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in MOOCs in the News, Op-Ed

 

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