Tony Bates’ Online Learning in 2012: A Retrospective is worth the time it takes for a thorough read. But when I was done reading I kept coming back to a central proposition that I have some issues with:
“MOOCs are seen as an easy, low risk way for these universities not only to catch up, but to jump into the front line. But they are hugely wrong. Moving from broadcasting to learning is not going to be easy. More importantly, MOOCs are a side issue, a distraction.”
Except that the “side issues” that Tony refers to aren’t currently representative of side issues at all…they are representative of the current state of affairs in most educational institutions now. Moving from broadcasting to learning is hard. But if the history of education teaches us anything, it’s this: they don’t have to move and they likely won’t. MOOCs are a central issue–an ongoing failure–that, for the most part, reinforce and re-create poor educational practices that have been almost completely immovable for many decades.
The motivation behind most MOOCs, consciously or not, has nothing to do with change or moving from the broadcast model. And I see very little motivation for the vast majority of MOOC creators to do anything else. Educational innovation matters little to most students, who will continue to be at least as happy with the broadcast and content transfer model of MOOCs that is familiar to them as they are in the classroom. If anything, the simple benefit of convenience makes them even happier. So what’s the driver that will move institutions to tackle the hard part?