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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Future of MOOClear Power?


I'm fascinated watching Keith Devlin twist and squirm a bit as he works his way through MOOCs, wavering slightly back-and-forth between optimism and uncertainty (or at least caution) about their future. His latest upbeat post, as he embarks on his second go-at-it (beginning March 4), is here:

http://mooctalk.org/2013/02/20/here-we-go-again/

Devlin notes that MOOCs are still very young, barely out of the starting gate (indeed he compares the effort to "running a marathon"), and that 'missteps' are to be expected. I totally agree, and find it remarkable that some folks already pan them as a failed experiment, or, as Keith writes, "Anyone who views such outcomes as failures has clearly never tried to do anything new and challenging, where you have to make up some of the rules as you go on."
My own ultimate optimism for MOOCs (long-term) stems from one simple reason… supply-and-demand (...it's worked well for capitalism free enterprise in the past). There are a limited number of truly excellent programs and instructors in any given academic field, but there are often 100s of thousands of prospective students around a shrinking globe who would love access to them. The demand for such access, once it is viewed as possible, will drive those in charge to find an effective way of making it work -- we may not know that precise "way" yet, but 'necessity (or demand) is the mother of invention'… in short, as others have noted, MOOCs are the avenue to a scalability that is desirable but was previously unfeasible. Tangentially, after medicine, higher education is probably the next most inflationary cost in the U.S… a cost that must be reigned in if education is to remain broad-based and not the luxury of an elite. MOOCs are a clear egalitarian antidote for that cost-control.
Anyway, here's wishing Keith great success with his second MOOC endeavor... and his 3rd, and 4th, and 5th and....

(Again, if any reader here is taking Keith's course, I'd love to hear reports back about how it goes).

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