By Bernard Fryshman
Shall we count the ways? Books are mobile, ubiquitous and comprehensive. A student devoting the requisite time and attention to a book will acquire as complete an understanding of the course material as from a MOOC. For the most part, books covering material in any course are readily available in libraries — and where an older edition suffices (as it does for most courses) can be purchased at minimal cost.
Books are available throughout the world, and if we count the number of people who riffle through the pages of a new book (riffling being the equivalent of the tens of thousands of people who try a MOOC and drop it at once), books readily qualify the “massive” designation as well.
Students can, and have, mastered college courses studying alone from books, and the same will be true for MOOCs. More likely will be the use of MOOCs as supplementary and support material for a conventional course — again, just like books. It also follows that the same kind of students who come to class unprepared, not having read the text, will probably come to class not having followed a MOOC.
In essence, MOOCs and books are part of a continuum. MOOCs aren’t a new technology as much as an improved technology. Just as a frame of reference, the excitement surrounding MOOCs resembles the hype that welcomed television as a teaching medium.
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/08/02/let-us-count-ways-books-and-moocs-are-alike-essay ]