VIA Inside Higher Ed: Memo to Trustees re: Thomas Friedman’s ‘Revolution Hits the Universities’Posted: January 29, 2013
Here’s a smart piece by Kris Olds on the pros and cons of MOOCs, especially in terms of their implementation and potential impact. These are the kinds of details that a writer like Tom Friedman, whatever his virtues, tends to ignore. One crucial caveat should b highlighted:
while Friedman’s article implies a relatively easy Yes or No decision re. going ahead (we are, after all, supposed to be in the middle of a “revolution”) the direct and indirect resource base required to establish and maintain MOOCs is nothing to be sneezed at. For example, it was good to see that he profiled Mitchell Duneier’s Coursera course. What Friedman failed to note was that Princeton is an extraordinarily wealthy private university that has the capacity to provide undoubtedly brilliant and hard working Duneier with sufficient support to run his MOOC, including via designated assistants. Online teaching can scale more easily than in-person teaching, but the creation of the institutional space and support infrastructure to produce a series of quality MOOCs takes time, attention, resources, TLC, and so on. The production process also has to be preceded by the creation of a formal or informal governance pathway, as well as an assessment if your university has the technological and organizational capabilities to coordinate a legitimate MOOCs initiative.