New Yorker Recaps MOOC Hype and Hysteria

MOOCIN' BOUT TOWN: Buzzing about the web this week is a ten-pager about MOOCs from Nathan Heller at The New Yorker, which meanders through the buildup and backlash, hype and hysteria that have dominated the online higher education conversation over the past couple of years. (We've been keeping track of the noise too.) Through interviews with many Ivy League professors, Heller leave us with more salient questions than answers, such as how "online education turns from a dissemination method to a precious data-gathering resource," why it's been so difficult to run a humanities MOOC, and whether the flipped classroom is really the "pedagogic ideal." Particularly poignant is the closing question:

"Is the fact that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to revolutionize the tech industry a sign that their Harvard educations worked, or that they failed? The answer matters, because the mechanism by which conveyed knowledge blooms into an education is the standard by which moocs will either enrich teaching in this country or deplete it."

A worthwhile companion is a recent Ph.D study, based on a study of 29 MOOCs, which finds that the average completion rate is under 7 percent.

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