A Star MOOC Professor Defects!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a lead story today about Mitchell Duneier, a Princeton University sociology professor, who was has been a MOOC star but who now objects to the format. As reported in the article:

“Worried that the massive open online courses might lead legislators to cut state-university budgets, the Princeton University sociology professor [Mitchell Duneier] has pulled out of the movement.

After teaching introductory sociology through Coursera last year, Mr. Duneier extolled his experience in a Chronicle commentary. The New York Times featured him on its front page, and Thomas L. Friedman wrote about him in a column. One of Coursera’s founders, Daphne Koller, plugged his course in a TED talk.

But Mr. Duneier has now ceased teaching his sociology MOOC. The change of heart happened, he says, after Coursera approached him about licensing his course so other colleges could use the content in a blended format, meaning a mix of online and face-to-face instruction. That could save the colleges money.

“I’ve said no, because I think that it’s an excuse for state legislatures to cut funding to state universities,” Mr. Duneier says. “And I guess that I’m really uncomfortable being part of a movement that’s going to get its revenue in that way. And I also have serious doubts about whether or not using a course like mine in that way would be pedagogically effective.”

We laud Professor Duneier for his stance.  More of his MOOC colleagues should also examine their consciences and reconsider what they are doing.



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