Monday, October 16, 2017

When Moocs bestrode the world like colossi

The Moocs, it seems, have come and gone. A short but bright life that likely made some people a lot of money, occupied the waking hours of countless deans and provosts and university presidents and promised to radically redesign higher education. Some were skeptical. Some even said as much (and yes, I was one of these! Type ‘Moocs’ on the search box and you will see my little contribution). Here (by John Warner) is an obituary written for Inside Higher Ed. It gloats a little, and with good reason. Now that the owl of Minerva has spread her wings, we see that Moocs were just the latest attempt to mechanize education (click on the Audrey Watters’ time line in the link). Like the others, it flamed for a brief period and disappeared. How do we know this is over with till memories fade and someone else tries to shake the money tree (it seems that “personalized learning” is the next big thing, until it is not)? Because Udacity has thrown in the towel. As Warner writes about Udacity:

From transforming all of higher ed to targeted training in five short years.

It is worth thinking about the Mooc explosion for a while before we happily purge it from our memories. It is worth recalling all the awards offered for this new disruptive technology, all the hype about transforming education, all the frenzy to get in on the action, all the money thrown at those ready to redesign courses to fit the format, all the techno enthusiasm and the hailing of a new messianic age of education. Remember it all, because believe me it is coming again. In fact, it has already come even if we are not sure what it is. So keep this one in mind to inoculate yourself against the next big thing.

We live in the age of techno hucksters. It will come again.

1 comment:

  1. They're actually still here in the form of Duolingo, which seems to be doing OK. Perhaps because a) elementary language learning is quite suitable for gamification b) it has many suitable properties for being a displacement activity.