Siva Vaidhyanathan has a new post up on the Chronicle blog that takes on the hype cycle around MOOCs. Which is a good thing. Experimenting with new ways (New post on the blog: Mind the MOOC?
For those not playing at home, the UVa recently went through a very public and destructive firing and rehiring of their president. The reason, it turned out, is that their Board of Visitors seemed to think the university should be engaging in creative destruction more quickly. Or something similar to that. They wanted more motion, faster. And MOOCs seem to be the current darling of what elite institutions can do to… well to forestall the inevitable.
To be clear, I agree with the economic doom-casters. I think we are in for a cataclysmic and rapid change in what universities do in the US. I think it will feel a bit like an echo of the newspaper collapse, and in particular, we will see a large number of universities and colleges not make it through the process. Part of that is that there will be challengers outside of traditional universities, and part of it will be that traditional universities will find ways of reaching new students. A big part will be rapid changes in how universities–particularly private universities–are funded.
But I think Siva has MOOCs wrong, in part by assuming that there is a thing called a MOOC and that it is a stable sort of a thing.