I’m convinced. Physioproffe is right: MOOCs are a great big boondoggle. It wasn’t PP’s words (true as they are) that persuaded me, though — it’s that Thomas Friedman has endorsed them, in a godawful column complete with helpful discussion with his driver from the airport.
Just consider this claim:
We demand that plumbers and kindergarten teachers be certified to do what they do, but there is no requirement that college professors know how to teach. No more. The world of MOOCs is creating a competition that will force every professor to improve his or her pedagogy or face an online competitor.
Holy crap. Right now I’m in ‘competition’ with skilled colleagues who were selected for their position on the basis of their teaching skill — I’m evaluated in comparison with my peers. I’ve seen these MOOC-style lectures, and please please please, I would love to be assessed against some person whose interactions with students are entirely through a glass screen, in a format that favors linear lecturing, and considers email a marvelous way to communicate outside of class.
This is what Friedman considers an increase in competition for college teachers? I see a slackening and a reduction of standards…and what the administrators and mouth-breathing ignoramuses like Friedman see is a way to outsource and reduce the costs of the expensive part of an education…the part that is also the only real education component of the process.