http://higheredwatch.newamerica.net/sites/all/themes/nafbase/images/logo.pngBy Kevin Carey. For the last two years, MOOCs have dominated the national conversation on technology and the economics of higher education. But for all the talk of whether they’ll usher in a new age of democratized global learning or destroy higher learning as we know it (or possibly both at the same time), it’s been hard to get a handle on MOOCs are, and what they can be. A lot of MOOC journalism has been like this, wherein a general-interest magazine writer signed up for 11 courses, finished one of them (the easiest, apparently), and formed his opinions accordingly. On the theory that to understand an educational experience you should actually experience it, I’ve spent the last four months taking two MOOCs. Now I’m done, and this is what I learned.
The first was Introduction to Philosophy, from Coursera (also the one class MOOC dropout guy finished, coincidentally.) It’s a nice, friendly, seven-week overview of major philosophical concepts, with each week’s lecture led by a different professor from the University of Edinburgh’s philosophy department. It was fun, and I learned some things. It was not, however, the equivalent of a legitimate college course. And to be clear, it didn’t pretend to be. The expected to workload was listed as “1-2 hours/week” and even granting the many problems with equating time and learning, that’s a clear signal the class isn’t something people should be getting three college credits for. Read more...