Succinct thoughts on this summer of the MOOC

Screenshot from a video discussion of Ron Silliman’s “Albany” in preparation for “ModPo,” a ten-week course hosted by the University of Pennsylvania and Coursera beginning September 10, 2012.

New article about MOOCs (the “massively open online courses” that have become all the rage this spring and summer — of which I am myself teaching one): link.

“Some educators say these cyber courses can’t replace the academic community and learning experience of a traditional campus education.”

Well, they’re not supposed to.

“If students can get high-quality academic material for free, colleges and universities will be pressed to demonstrate the education value they offer beyond lectures and exams.”

Excellent form of pressure; on-campus face-to-face education should eliminate the lecture entirely. I’ve been publicly calling for the end of the (live; face-to-face; on campus) lecture since 1995, but I think these MOOCs might just force the job to be done.

“Once up and running, most courses can almost run by themselves.”

I seriously doubt this. The discussion forums are crucial and the instructor must be involved. Teaching a MOOC well is hard work and requires just as much engagement — possibly more — than traditional classroom teaching.