Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Required reading about MOOCs

Commentator Douglas Kretzman left two excellent links.   The MOOC Moment and the End of Reform By Aaron Bady is the best discussion of what MOOCs means for education in particular and society in general I have ever read. It is truly not to be missed.

Then read this tongue in cheek but deadly serious CUCFA President Meister's Open Letter to Coursera Founder Daphne Koller.

The California Master Plan is in tatters.  I could go on and on about how the promise is illusory and about the craven cynicism of the people who pretend that it still exists other than on paper.  I want to be part of the group who push back against privatization of education.

Thank-you so much for the links DK!

The CopyrightX model of online education is not scalable.  It depended on TAs that (as far as I could tell) volunteered their time in order to gain experience and teaching experience for their resumes.  It also piggy-backed upon a class happening in real time on campus at HLS and the technological assistance and platform provided by edX.

Mostly, the experience depended on a small group of students capable of surpassing hurdles such as admissions essays.  At the end of the class, we posted our LinkedIn profiles and added each other to our networks.  It turns out that nearly all of my North American counterparts had already graduated from elite universities for either undergrad or grad school (or both).  One cannot responsibly extrapolate the data from this online learning experiment to educating under-served communities.


  1. you are very welcome.. I took one of the mass market Coursera courses. Certainly it's an excellent option for those who have no other access to the material, but it did not appear in any way to be teaching. With thousands of students, the lecturers might as well be reading out chapters of the textbook. Any learning that happened occurred at random in the online forums and chatrooms around the course, not the lecture videos. Online courses are a fine resource for autodidacts but no replacement for teachers.

    Similar things are happening in elementary/school education, with Bill Gates and the Walmart heirs funding a Taylorist approach to teaching, eagerly promulgated by Arne Duncan. This punishes the excellent admirable teachers of my children, never mind the idealists who are teaching in inner cities: I get so incensed I can barely speak.

  2. One of the people I follow on twitter is a grad student in sociology researching these issues. Here is her most recent post on the topic, which I have not yet had time to read:

    Would you mind if I pointed her to your blog? She recently asked what problem MOOCs solve, and I answered that I've seen them used fruitfully by techies who are already highly educated and want to learn new skills. It sounds like that has been your experience, too.

    Also, the mother of the woman who writes Mom101 is the force behind (

    Lots of interesting and thought-provoking things out there on what is happening in education right now. I haven't had time to really absorb it all.

  3. @Cloud Yes, please do send her the link. I'm interested in her take.


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