Education is important at Chaos To Order Publishing. Our new book "The Art Of Teaching & The Threat Of MOOC's" documents the recent controversy.
Please click at left for more information.
"Professors who care about public education should not produce products that will replace professors, dismantle departments and provide a diminished education for students in public universities."
"But if we buy them [MOOCs] from edX as the basis for our classes, we would suddenly be second class citizens. I would basically be a teaching assistant, and my students, unlike those at Harvard, could not question their professor."
"What does it mean to have a university without professors? Certainly it makes shared governance, the primary means of enforcing quality control upon methods of instruction, a thing of the past. Perhaps more importantly for society at large, what does it mean if future students everywhere get only one view of what justice means? Nobody is censoring anyone if you simply take away their listeners, but on cultural terms that result may be even more disturbing."
Our concern is not so much with a particular course, with curricular decisions in our university, or even with the future of philosophy as a discipline (although all of these things are deeply important), but with the future of higher education itself, and hence, frankly, with the future of our culture. The key problem is not even MOOCs so much as it is with the reduction of knowledge to that which can be tested by a multiple-choice exam or similar methods. It is the “massive” aspect of MOOCs that raises the deepest problems. MOOCs pose a great threat to the most important value of higher education: “literacy.” By “literacy” I mean, very broadly, the ability to read, think about, and intelligently respond (both orally and in writing) to the literature of any field of study. Thus, implementation of MOOCs for university credit is bad because it is bad for our students.
Well, with all due respect to Mr, Khan, MIT and Mr. Gates, I very strongly disagree with their implicit assumption about the purpose of education. These new models and their champions take a very narrow and instrumental view of higher education, suggesting that education is primarily, or even exclusively, about improving a student's job market outcomes. These new models of distance and on-line learning do represent new possibilities, especially if I am a smart Uzbek student with no chance to study abroad or I am the parent seeking a better life for my child in Bihar, India, or I'm a working adult in the United States. BUT if I am a smart, motivated high school student, anywhere in the world, the very best holistic education is and will continue to be at a residential liberal arts college. To repeat, I strongly believe that the finest education available in the world for the foreseeable future will be at places like St. John's University and the College of Saint Benedict. It takes much more than a good internet connection to provide a great education-people and place matter.
"To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together."
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer
"If the unthinking technophilia and new Taylorism which MOOCs represent ends up killing face-to-face education as we know it, it won’t be because the technology offers a superior form of education. It will be because our visionless political and educational leaders have almost entirely abandoned educational values for market values. As many scholars have noted, in the era of neoliberalism we have just about given up on the notion of education as a public good rather than a mere commodity. Let’s hope we don’t allow this near-total triumph of market values to destroy one of the last public spaces in our society not completely determined by greed and instrumentalism."
What Is The Real Agenda Behind MOOCs?
"MOOC momentum is being driven not by educational need or proven technological achievement but by a business lobby... The movement's systematic exaggerations, the lack of concern for impacts on public university ecosystem, the staged benevolence toward a hostile customer--
are all hallmarks not of technical or pedagogical progress, but of a
carefully designed business strategy."
"My limited ability to make key pedagogical choices is the most frustrating aspect of teaching a MOOC. Because of the way the Coursera platform is constructed, such wide-ranging decisions have been hard-coded into the software—decisions that seem to have no educational rationale and that thwart the intent of our course."
"I wanted to require students to participate in peer work in order to get credit for assignments. When I wanted to make the penalty for not completing peer review a 100-percent deduction per assignment, the Coursera support team responded that the maximum deduction could be only 20 percent. Coursera acknowledged that other instructors had complained about the penalty figure but gave no indication as to when or whether the problem would be addressed. Predictably, many students have not completed the peer review, leaving others with little feedback. In my opinion, the instructor, not the platform, should determine how an assignment is evaluated."
“You can’t teach 200,000 people,” she said. “That’s just stupid, and that’s not how teaching happens. It happens in something called human interaction and through dialogue and conversation. There are some rock star professors. … But with 100,000 students, that’s no more teaching than a Facebook friendship is a real friendship.”
"An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education points out that 'Offering MOOCs through edX is hardly free. There are options available to institutions that want to build their own courses on the edX platform at no charge, but for partners who want help developing their courses, edX charges a base rate of $250,000 per course, then $50,000 for each additional time that course is offered; edX also takes a cut of any revenue the course generates.'”
"...one with well-funded colleges and universities in which privileged students get their own real professors, and the other consisting of financially stressed private and public universities in which students watch videotaped lectures with some interaction on their home campuses."
"Read beneath the headlines a bit. The pundits and disrupters, many of whom enjoyed liberal-arts educations at elite colleges, herald a revolution in higher education that is not for people like them or their children, but for others: less-wealthy, less-prepared students who are increasingly cut off from the dream of a traditional college education."
"While the level of unease expressed at Harvard is not as unified or oppositional as recent statements made at American, Duke, and San Jose State Universities, it is all the more notable for arising among the faculty of an institution that has invested $30 million in a nonprofit organization that produces massive open online courses."
"Most students feel they do not learn the material as well when they took it online... this was not only due to reduced teacher interaction, but also weaker student-student interaction. Thus, the move to push remedial courses and introductory courses online, directly contradicts this research and the public investment in education."
"...will broadcasting the videoed by products of elite institutions be seen as good enough for the masses? It would be nice to hope that our commitment to equity and equality in education would resist such temptations."
"Wilhelmsson sees a greater significance in the event given the current debate over Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Some claim that MOOCs, which use video lectures from privileged private universities to replace real professors, will do more harm than good to public university students by taking away their direct access to both their professor and classmates. Wilhelmsson goes beyond even this by questioning the very premise that MOOC lectures from Harvard or Stanford are superior to his own.
"I, for one, am tired of the almost smug assumed superiority
present in the debate. In my San Jose State University
master's thesis [which is contained in his book] I take on the
privileged private university scholars and show them wrong.
Their formalistic and, dare I say, lazy scholarship is what
allowed the minimization of Edith Stein as a philosopher to
go on for far too long. And now SJSU President Qayoumi
and a bunch of opportunist politicians want to replace a real
version of me with a taped version of them! How does this
improve education at SJSU? How does this increase the
prestige of holding an SJSU degree?" These are the things I
have been working for. Is it too much to ask that the
administration might have the same goals?"
Yet Wilhelmsson sees an even darker side to the issue than this.
"You have to ask yourself why a group of power elites are so
interested in gaining control of the content within the public
university classroom? In our politically correct and increasingly
monitored and controlled society the public university classroom is
one of the last great havens where people can speak freely
and question authority. MOOCs are more akin to
indoctrination, which teaches you what to think, than education,
which teaches you how to think. I do not think MOOCs are
just bad policy. I think MOOCs are evil."
The "Chromotopia St. Stephan: Via Activa im Dialog des Lichts" art display continues until June 8th, 2013."
The Editor's Spirited Comments On A MOOC Article
"So the San Jose State administration has now freely admitted that they are leaving the choice of their courses to Bill Gates. Not only do they not have shared governance with their faculty, which is suppose to be the norm that protects quality education in California, but they are not even governing things themselves! So just how much did Bill Gates have to pay to get San Jose State to offer the courses he wants? What is the attitude toward Microsoft and other Bill Gates interests put forward in these courses? WAKE UP YOU IDIOTS! The San Jose State administration has put higher education up for sale to the highest bidder and you are talking about "experiments" and "giving things time" while any sane society would be talking about the dismissal and arrest of those involved. What a brave new world we are living in."