But don’t worry! It’s not the fault of the visionaries, like Sebastian Thrum, who have been promoting the use of Massive Open Online Courses. No, we know where the problem lies: in those darn students.
After low performance rates, low student satisfaction and faculty revolt, Thrun announced this week that he has given up on MOOCs as a vision for higher education disruption. Thrun told Fast Company that the experiment failed because the students were not “ideal”. The “godfather of free online education” says that the racially, economically diverse students at SJSU,“were students from difficult neighborhoods, without good access to computers, and with all kinds of challenges in their lives…[for them] this medium is not a good fit.” It seems disruption is hard when poor people insist on existing. Thrun has the right to fail. That’s just business. But he shouldn’t have the right to fail students like those at San Jose State and the public universities that serve them for the sake of doing business.
The article makes two major points: that MOOCs neglect issues of class and race and therefore are poor educational tools for precisely the people who would benefit most from free education resources, and we’ve been experimenting on poor and diverse students with these machine-based cheap teaching methods.
Man, I wish all of my classes were stocked with nothing but ideal students.