"The fight over MOOCs isn’t about the value of college; a good chunk of the four thousand institutions you haven’t heard of provide an expensive but mediocre education."
Comments: longish piece but a very good read. Bottom line: make sure universities and colleges don't go the way the music industry went when they saw mp3 coming and yet choose to ignore it. MOOCs are a serious threat (and opportunity).
Clay Shirky starts with the mp3 story and Napster, then introduces MOOCs as a similar phenomenon. They are similar in that they also beat the 'cost disease': education doesn't scale well, thus becoming ever more expensive relative to products and services that do scale (anything that can be mass produced, cars, computers, but not musical performances). He then goes on to point out that the Harvards of this world have deep enough pockets to be safe. Indeed, for them MOOCs are a marketing instrument. The institutions that should be worried are the non-ivy-league universities, some of which apparantly are better at producing loan defaults than graduates. Even qualitywise, not just in terms of price, MOOCs might offer a beter educational experience than these instutions. And he concludes by saying that "In the academy, we lecture other people every day about learning from history. Now its our turn, and the risk is that we’ll be the last to know that the world has changed, because we can’t imagine—really cannot imagine—that story we tell ourselves about ourselves could start to fail. Even when it’s true. Especially when it’s true." (peter sloep, @pbsloep; thanks Seb Schmoller for alerting me to this)