It was not technical issues that derailed this course [which was a symptom], it is the underlying philosophy that many institutions still hold onto—that a MOOC is similar to, or the same as, a course in a traditional face-to-face classroom, and it can be successful using the same structure, same content and similar instructional methods. MOOC courses offered through Cousera and other such platforms, often appear modified to ‘fit’ into a course experience on the Web, albeit with thousands of students.
Whether it’s philosophy students arguing in a dorm about what Hegel meant, or fledgling Java programmers inspecting one another’s code, people learn best as part of a cohort. The course material is almost secondary to the engagement. We go to college for the people.
Likewise, the best of MOOCs should be able to bring together ideal, heterogeneous groupings of students based on their profiles and past performance, and also create ample opportunities for them to engage with one another in the spirit of learning.
In thinking about MOOCs, and education in general, we do well never to forget that it is a human pursuit.
Rushkoff’s article resonate with some of the points I was making in my reflections on Clay Shirky’s position:
The strangest thing about this MOOC obsession is the idea that something that very wealthy private institutions offer for free, at a loss, as a service to humanity, must somehow represent the magic numbers in the higher-education lottery. It’s new, it’s “innovative,” and it’s big, the thinking goes. So it must be the answer.