In a MOOC Mystery, a Course Suddenly Vanishes

08 Jul

By Steve Kolowich

A massive open online course on making sense of massive open online courses caused massive confusion when the course content was suddenly deleted and the professor started writing cryptic things on Twitter.

The MOOC, called “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” was taught by Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a lecturer at the University of Zurich. Offered through Coursera, the course had been conceived of as a meta-MOOC designed to help disoriented educators find their feet in the online landscape. The course “grew out of the author’s experiences as an early adopter and advocate of newer technologies (such as Coursera) for online teaching,” according to a description on Coursera’s website.

So far, the course has produced chaos rather than clarity. All the videos, forums, and other course materials mysteriously vanished from the website last week. As students in the course grappled with the bizarre turn of events, Mr. Dehaye offered only vague, inscrutable tweets.

The professor was behind the deletion, according to Coursera. On Wednesday, Mr. Dehaye “unexpectedly deleted all of the course content from the site, without explanation, leading to significant confusion among the learners,” Daphne Koller, president of Coursera, said in a written statement on Monday.

The deletion was followed by a series of strange dispatches from Mr. Dehaye’s Twitter account, including several alluding to an experiment he might have been conducting and, later, claims that he had been “removed” from his role by Coursera. In other messages, he talked of feeling “lost” and in over his head. Mr. Dehaye did not immediately respond to an email message from The Chronicle on Monday.

[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: ]


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