Mucking about with MOOCs

Well, as MOOCs seem to be the topic-de-jour, the flavour-of-the-week, here are links to some recent media stories. Be there or be square.

  • Stop polarising the MOOCs debate.” Cathy N. Davidson. University World News (16/2/13):259: “I regret this flattening of online learning into a simple binary of ‘politically and financially motivated greed’ on the one hand and ‘an opportunity to find out more about learning’ on the other.”
  • Will Moocs fail to give students help they need?” Chris Parr. Times Higher Education (14/2/13): “They are not a revolution. So much of the pedagogy is this presentational, talking heads sort of thing. We’ve been telling ourselves for years we need to get away from that pedagogy, and now here it is slamming back at us again.”
  • ASECS President Julie Candler Hayes on ‘disrupting disruption.’” The Long Eighteenth (13/2/13): “The low-cost alternative may not have all the desirable qualities of the original, but if effective, it will come to dominate the market, add sustaining innovations of its own, and replace the older product.”
  • MOOCs – Mistaking brand for quality?” Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic. University World News (9/2/13):258: “[I]t is risky to assume that university brand is a surrogate for course quality.”
  • Where MOOCs Miss the Mark: The Student-Teacher Relationship.” Matt Levinson. Edutopia (8/2/13): “[F]or many learners, MOOCs lack the possibility of mentorship and close guidance that comes through the building of a meaningful relationship between student and teacher.”
  • Memo to Trustees re: Thomas Friedman’s ‘Revolution Hits the Universities’.” Kris Olds. Inside Higher Ed (27/1/13): “We are now in a new (normalized) normal, at least in the US, where austerity is accepted and indeed viewed positively for it can be perceived as a mechanism to restructure higher education systems and institutions.”
  • Revolution Hits the Universities.” Thomas L. Friedman. The New York Times (26/1/13): “I can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world — some computing from Stanford, some entrepreneurship from Wharton, some ethics from Brandeis, some literature from Edinburgh — paying only the nominal fee for the certificates of completion. It will change teaching, learning and the pathway to employment. “There is a new world unfolding,” said Reif, “and everyone will have to adapt.'”
  • Skepticism About Tenure, MOOCs and the Presidency: A Survey of Provosts.” Scott Jaschik. Inside Higher Ed (23/1/13): “When it comes to whether MOOCs and other innovations will hurt the business models of higher education, many provosts are worried. In fact they are decidedly more worried about MOOCs than about other reforms.”
  • Students Rush to Web Classes, but Profits May Be Much Later.” Tamar Lewin. The New York Times (6/1/13): “Many educators predict that the bulk of MOOC revenues will come from licensing remedial courses and “gateway” introductory courses in subjects like economics or statistics, two categories of classes that enroll hundreds of thousands of students a year. Even though less than 10 percent of MOOC students finish the courses they sign up for on their own, many experts believe that combining MOOC materials with support from a faculty member or a teaching assistant could increase completion rates.”

State of the Union

  • Why are many academics on short-term contracts for years? More than a third of academics are on temporary contracts as universities casualise their workforces.” Anna Fazackerley. The Guardian (14/2/13):  “If a student asked me whether they should do a PhD, sadly, I’d say take a very careful look at the other options. When you’re young you think ‘the job insecurity won’t happen to me’ – but it will.”
  • Internationalisation has corrupted higher education.” Roger Y. Chao Jr. University World News (26/1/13):256: “Corruption in higher education should not only be seen in terms of misuse of research funds, presentation and construction of fraudulent data or inequitable admissions practices. It should also include micro-level university-related practices in learning, assessment and certification of students and graduates respectively.”
  • Education’s investment metaphor misses the point.” Grace Karram. University World News (26/1/13):256: “It seems that as money becomes scarce, post-secondary education advice is infused with investment metaphors: Should institutions invest in high-performing students, permanent instructors or high-enrolment programmes? This is problematic, as it presents a false sense that education funding is a zero-sum game in which administrators must finance the most lucrative venture.”