Dear Commons Community,
The lines are being drawn and the battle against MOOCs has begun. I think it was George Otte who first posted in a private blog about decisions at Duke and Amherst by faculty that was covered in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
“The faculty of Duke University’s undergraduate college drew a line in the sand last week on online education: Massive online experiments are fine, but there will be no credit-bearing online courses at Duke in the near future.
The university’s Arts & Sciences Council, the governing arm of the undergraduate faculty, voted down a proposal to join a consortium of top colleges offering for-credit online courses through 2U, a company that specializes in real-time, small-format online education.
2U’s defeat at Duke marked the second time in a month that undergraduate faculty members at a top liberal-arts college had struck down a proposed deal with an online-teaching consortium. On April 16, professors at Amherst College rejected an invitation to join edX, a nonprofit provider of massive open online courses.
Like the Amherst faculty, members of the faculty council at Duke passed an alternative resolution affirming that they intended to pursue online education—just not like this one, right now.”
Yesterday The Chronicle reported that “professors in the philosophy department at San Jose State University are refusing to teach a philosophy course developed by edX, saying they do not want to enable what they see as a push to “replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities.”
The San Jose State professors also called out Michael Sandel, the Harvard government professor who developed the course for edX, suggesting that professors who develop MOOCs are complicit in how public universities might use them…
…But the authors of the philosophy department letter are nonetheless worried about what could happen in the future. “Let’s not kid ourselves; administrators at the CSU are beginning a process of replacing faculty with cheap online education.”
Peter J. Hadreas, chair of the philosophy department, said he believed that appealing to Mr. Sandel directly would be the best way to spark a public conversation about the possible unintended consequences of superstar professors working with edX and other MOOC providers.”
Developments at San Jose State are especially interesting given that San Jose is one of the first pubic university that has a major contract with edX for the development of MOOCs. The salvos have been fired.