By Carl Straumsheim
If students in a face-to-face course emailed their provost with concerns that their professor had stopped lecturing, chances are that someone — a department head or an administrator — would intervene. But what if the students were scattered across different countries and time zones in a not-for-credit massive open online course?
The issue of MOOC quality control has resurfaced in the wake of the #MassiveTeaching debacle, the MOOC-turned-social experiment that last week inspired a scavenger hunt across the internet.
By Tuesday afternoon, one observant Inside Higher Ed commenter had cracked the case. After a successful first week of “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” Paul-Olivier Dehaye, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Zurich, deleted the course content as part of a social experiment to show students how their data can be manipulated online. But since Dehaye had not notified anyone of his intentions, the experiment raised confusion rather than awareness.
This is not the first time a MOOC — or even an online education MOOC — has gone off the rails. Last year, a course on the same subject collapsed after its creators underestimated the technology required to accommodate tens of thousands of students.
Last week’s case, however, was one man’s doing. “[I don’t] mean to destroy [C]oursera, just insist to those students that there are dangers,” Dehaye said in one of many clues scattered around the internet.
George Siemens, a researcher based at the University of Texas at Arlington, said Dehaye actually deserves some credit for raising awareness about MOOC providers’ ability (or lack thereof) to control quality and manage crises.
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/07/15/after-massiveteaching-questions-about-mooc-quality-control ]