Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad MOOC?

“We should look upon online lectures and similar materials as a way to draw on others’ expertise. As it is, I read some of the secondary literature on a theorist whose work I teach. Why not let the students hear a lecture on that thinker by a colleague at another university whose work I find so helpful in preparing my own lectures? Why not give students direct access to the deep knowledge of the genuine specialists on each of the works or thinkers that we cover?  Yes, the students could read the secondary literature too, but surely there are advantages to lectures. Otherwise, why do we provide them in the classroom?

One should hope that eventually there would be a wide variety of lectures available online from which professors and students could choose. These might be available through a MOOC, or YouTube, or both. The “downright scary” prospect envisioned by the San Jose State professors of the exact same course being taught in various departments across the country need not come to pass. That depends on whether others provide alternative material, and whether professors uniformly choose the same materials. The scary prospect can be avoided if each of us picks and chooses among a wide array of alternatives, crafting our own distinctive combination of materials.”

As I’ve been saying (and this article seems to agree) – using a MOOC from another class is just like using a textbook written by someone else.  Just course material.  Entire article here at The Chronicle of Higher Ed.