20 Things the Matter with MOOCs
1. MOOCs are the bastard children of 1980s cyber-utopianism and post-1945 economic neoliberalism.
2. MOOCs are a 21st century manifestation of cyberspace’s revolutionary ideology of information freedom.
3. MOOCs deploy the liberatory and egalitarian rhetoric of the Open Net in the service of the 21st century neoliberalization of higher education.
4. MOOCs are driven by the desire of Silicon Valley entrepeneurs to capitalize on the data generated by college students.
5. MOOCs falsely equate non-profit higher education with profit-based industries like bookstores or newspapers or entertainment companies
6. MOOCs use the economic model of 21st century social media to build a massive user base for commercial purposes
7. MOOCs follow the model of Facebook or Google by giving away their product in exchange for data and advertisements, perhaps eventually for money.
8. MOOCs, like for-profit commercial entities, admit all comers; the ability to pay (whether in money or data) is all that counts; colleges and universities require applications for admission, only admitting those who are qualified.
9. MOOCs reduce the purpose of a college or university education to training students for jobs
10. MOOCs reduce human learning to cognition and information
11. MOOCs minimize the role of embodiment and affect in education
12. MOOCs eliminate the ideo-affective structures of intimacy that have been central to education for millenia.
13. MOOCs replace shared embodied relations with individualized mediated interactions.
14. MOOCs reduce education to content delivery; online lectures and interactive exercises and discussion boards are not equivalent to classroom education.
15. MOOCs reduce college education to testable knowledge, eliminating completely the benefits of accident, chance, embodied interaction, late-night partying, modeling, bonding, individualized and personalized attention.
16. MOOCs imitate the logic of derivitization, breaking up courses and faculty into discrete parts—a MOOC here and a MOOC there, an online discussion moderator or grader here, another there.
17. MOOCs ignore the logic of the curriculum, in which a student’s education is designed to be completed in a sequence, where courses are meant to complement and build upon one another .
18. MOOCs represent the pro bono gestures of elite universities
19. MOOCs are extractive industries. The knowledge that they are exploiting was gained over long years of hard work in small, in-person seminars or archives, representing a resource that will become finite in a MOOCified future.
20. MOOCs must be made to serve the needs of higher education, rather than higher education being made to serve the needs of MOOCs.
“What’s the Matter with MOOCs: A Critical Conversation”
Center for 21st Century Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
March 12, 2013