29 January 2013

More on the Irrational Exuberance with MOOCs


I'm glad Larry Cuban posted about the "Irrational Exuberance" with MOOCs

The exuberance is very loud. And it's exhausting.

It seems as though each new technology-is-going-to-transform-education idea becomes ever more myopic by the time it makes the headlines. There's a desperation to it all too. Or maybe it's just the pushing and postering of trying to be the hero that will save American schools from themselves.

Trying to fix poverty isn't heroic, apparently.

Conceptually, MOOCs are an approach to learning born of the networked age. In fact, they're a formalization of the way networked people have learned for the last 30 years.

But education is a social institution, born of an entirely other epoch. Its role in society is complex, and becoming more complex with the increased and explicit involvement of corporate interests.

MOOCs like 3D virtual worlds do engender new contexts for learning. But this doesn't mean new contexts for learning fit or should fit with established contexts for education. And as Larry pointed out:

While teaching is clearly an important activity of universities, doing research and publishing studies is the primary function. The structures (e.g., departmental organization, professional schools) and incentives (e.g., tenure, promotion) of top- and middle-tier institutions drive tenure, promotion, and time allocation for faculty. MOOCs will do nothing to alter those structures and incentives.