By Cathy Davidson
What remains from a MOOC after the final video has ended and the last paper has been peer-assessed? The most exciting part of my recent MOOC on the “History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education” was the spirited exchanges among the participants. So that is the question. How can a MOOC be more than a “one off”? What remains for the participants after the MOOC is over? What infrastructure is required beyond the MOOC platform to turn a massive learning experience into a movement in the real world?
Before I address this movement, I should mention that I had two quite different kinds of motivations for signing up to teach a MOOC offered by my university, Duke, on the Coursera platform. First, I have so many reservations about MOOCs as pedagogy and as business model that I wanted to learn more about how they worked and didn’t work for myself, away from the obsessive MOOC hype and hysteria. Second, I wanted to see if it was possible to use the “massive” aspect of MOOCs to galvanize a significant movement on behalf of educational change.
That first set of issues will be addressed subsequently in a research paper on which I am now working, but, because the economic implications of MOOCs drown out so many other discussions, I want to say, bluntly and simply here, that, as presently conceived, MOOCs are not a “solution” to the problem of rising costs at American universities today. The Coursera data indicate the primary audience of MOOCs isn’t the traditional college-bound student. The typical MOOC participant is a 30-year-old with a college or even a postbaccalaureate degree. Two-thirds live outside the United States.
[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/future/2014/03/14/changing-higher-education-to-change-the-world/ ]