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Professors Say No to MOOC Takeover

Professors at San Jose State University (SJSU) are being encouraged to replace their lectures with an edX Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The professors, from SJSU’s philosophy department, have expressed their concerns by sending an open letter to the MOOC’s creator, Harvard Professor Michael Sandel.

In the letter, the professors indicated their concern for the change in curriculum that involves scrapping their lectures and replacing them with pre-existing MOOCs.

“Let’s not kid ourselves; administrators at the CSU[California State University]  are beginning a process of replacing faculty with cheap online education,” the letter states.

Furthermore, the professors explain that while they do not see online education as a threat to higher education, they are opposed to the idea of partnerships with third-party vendors that could potentially cause long-term negative consequences.

“Should one-size-fits-all vendor-designed blended courses become the norm, we fear that two classes of universities will be created,” the letter states. “Public universities will no longer provide the same quality of education and will not remain on par with well-funded private ones.”

When Sandel responded to the SJSU professors’ letter, he wrote that his course was made available online for free as an experiment and indicated that he is unaware of the details concerning the partnership between SJSU and edX.

“The last thing I want is for my online lectures to be used to undermine faculty colleagues at other institutions.”

Meanwhile Scott A. Bass, provost at the American University (AU), has issued a moratorium on MOOCs to better assess the policies that may affect the institution should professors choose to make their lectures freely available online.

“MOOCs raise a variety of important questions related to AU’s underlying economic model,” writes Bass. “For example, what are the implications for our existing courses offered at full-tuition or should a similar course be available by an AU faculty member through a MOOC that is free?”