By Carl Straumsheim
A massive open online course instructor was removed from his own course last week — or was he? As confusion brews among students in the half-finished, suspended MOOC, some observers are asking if the instructor orchestrated a social experiment without permission — or a farce.
Paul-Olivier Dehaye’s three-week course, “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” reportedly launched without controversy. Its first week featured the video lectures and forum chatter common to most MOOCs. The course targeted people in higher education who felt “threatened,” “lost” or “unprepared technology-wise,” according to the course description — a MOOC for MOOC skeptics, in other words.
When students returned for the second week, the forum was closed, and their classmates had vanished along with the course content. The forum is now back online, but Coursera, which hosts the MOOC lists it as inactive — students can sign up for updates about future sessions and preview some of the content, but it remains effectively closed to outsiders.
“At this point, it does not seem that the course is on,” said Apostolos Koutropoulos, an instructional design instructor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston who enrolled in the MOOC. “It seems like there isn’t much conversation in the class — with the exception of everybody’s wondering what’s going on.”
So far, the students have not received an answer.
Dehaye, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Zurich, in Switzerland, on July 3 tweeted “Students, please reflect on the fact that a technology company has now effectively replaced your teacher.” The next day, he added “Just to confirm, I was removed from the #MassiveTeaching course. Please do not question my integrity without facts.”
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/07/08/massiveteaching-mystery-captivates-confuses ]