More MOOC MOOC MOOC craziness

I’m quasi-vacationing this week (that is, I’m away from home at a lovely vacation spot near Traverse City, but I am still teaching online and doing a ton of work stuff so am therefore not really “unplugged” from it all), and while I haven’t been keeping up with my RSS feed too religiously, it sure seems like the MOOC stuff just keeps on coming.  For example:

  • In the New York Times comes  “Universities Reshaping Education on the Web.”  MOOCs are discussed as a “tsunami,” a “game changer,” an experiment too big to ignore, despite the fact that there is no evidence that these things will work, there’s no decent business model, and there isn’t even a good definition here as to what a MOOC actually is.
  • Coursera is adding a dozen more institutions, and Audrey Watters rounds up some other MOOC news.
  • The University of Washington is trying to offer “enhanced MOOCs” that might ultimately grant credit.  Or not.
  • UVa is getting involved in this and apparently not getting involved early enough was one of the reasons why their board fired the president.  Well, before unfiring her.
  • Alan “cog dog” Levine has a lovely song about all this (and the graphic I have borrowed above, too).  And of course the great Stephen Downes links to smart stuff here and here.

It goes on and on and on!  Anyway, a few quick thoughts for now:

  • I am far from against online education or incorporating new tools into learning, and I am also not at all against trying to innovative and even seemingly counter-intuitive approaches to pedagogy.  These kinds of free-for-all, DIY, learning for the sake of learning communities are awesome in and of themselves.  But they’re not a good way to “grant credit,” they’re not a way to pay the bills of higher education, and even the enthusiasts haven’t gotten that part of this MOOC thing worked out.
  • This is looking more and more like the 90s tech bubble where all of a sudden tech companies were claiming that they didn’t need to worry about sustainability of making a profit anymore.  Or maybe worse, it’s looking like tulips.  The thing that’s troubling to me about all this (besides the fact that the bean counters/board members of universities are the ones getting sucked into this and they control the money) is we might not even get to the potential good application of MOOCs before the bubble bursts and/or the administrators are on to a different craze.
  • When I mentioned all this stuff to my wife (who I was surprised hadn’t heard of this), she mentioned to me the definition of “mook” in popular culture:  a contemptible, incompetent, and even stupid person.  A different spelling for sure, but is there something about the similar pronunciation?
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