Man, I’m sick of MOOCs. According to the New York Times it’s the year of the MOOC, and they even have the temerity to call Coursera, Udacity and edX the “big three MOOC providers“, so now the Huffington Post is peddling that line too. The Washington Post, Time “Magazine”, Forbes are all watching those big awful MOOCs. The Chronicle of Higher Education eagerly reports the latest MOOC news, like colleges offering Coursera courses for credit.
I’m a historian, so I’m accustomed to people forgetting history. But how far back was 2008, for gosh sake, when David Wiley (2007 really), Alec Couros, George Siemens, Stephen Downes, Dave Cormier started all this? How could we forget the roots of the whole MOOC thing in five measly years?
My annoyance is showing. This morning in response to a Facebook query I wrote:
None of the people who invented the MOOC were doing it for profit – they were exploring new pedagogies. Now commercial and proto-commercial entities have not only adopted the idea (which is fine) but are seen as representing what a MOOC is. The entire argument is now based around these new commercial beasts, most of which use a pedagogy that is similar to an early 20th century correspondence course – read, test, repeat.
Those of us who teach those plain ole online classes are appalled. We have been working tirelessly to make the web the home of new pedagogies. The big obstacle has (until now) been learning management systems (Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle), since they not only guide pedagogy for inexperienced instructors but keep all the learning in a closed silo. Now we’ve got these horrid new super-trendy models (we are already talking about offering “MOOC”s at our college – it will save money to have one teacher “teach” thousands of students, I’m sure).
In four short years we’ve completely lost touch with the reason, the purpose for MOOCs – the opportunity to exploit the opportunities of the web, to form learning communities, to blow apart top-down teaching models, and to create something meaningful and valuable to participants. The massive part wasn’t just the number of students, it was the number of opportunities for people to learn what they wanted to learn. And the process was still in the baby stages, with most MOOCs still focusing (regardless of topic) on what it meant to be doing a MOOC.
Now, just when MOOCs were branching out into academic disciplines, they get corralled into this nasty, mass-produced, crowd-mongering model.
I could just spit.