MOOCS AND THE FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
University of Tasmania (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:MOOCs are revolutionizing Higher Education on a global scale. Greater reach, economic scale, and seamless integration in the all- pervasive internet culture make MOOCs ideal candidates for free and democratic education for everyone. There is indeed the chance for disseminating information for all sorts of emancipatory projects, as the market for learning is unregulated and outside the traditional bastions of elitist scholarship. But there are also potential dangers. Markets tend to be corrupted by monopolies. There is a clear potential that the future content providers of MOOCs will be centralized big conglomerates that define their content without transparency and accountability to the paying customer. Education is thus re-defined in terms of a for-profit enterprise, and that comes at the confusion of levels. Making money is quite different a skill from educating someone. In short, there is the danger that MOOCs will become vehicles of edutainment or sophistry. Moreover, almost everything we learn must be applied in a particular situation which requires judgement. But precisely judgement is not what one can "learn," least of all from information delivered online everywhere, all the time. Only by discussing the learning material with peers in face-to-face encounters can there be anything like a genuine learning process, in which teaching fulfills itself (as Aristotle nicely put it). But precisely this discussion is blocked by the format used by most MOOCs. The prevalence of MOOCs will thus further entrench the view that Higher Education is all about the more or less friction-less transfer of knowledge. But that is a very narrow, instrumental view that has been challenged from Newman, to Mill, to Orwell, to Nussbaum. In light of the much broader mission of Higher Education, say, the idea to liberate the student from his or her self-induced tutelage, it is imperative to delineate the inherent limits of MOOCs as vehicles for proper education.
Keywords: MOOCs, Higher Education, Newman, Nussbaum.