I am one of the signers of the open letter by the professors of philosophy at San José State University to Professor Michael Sandel of Harvard University concerning his involvement in edX, a start-up company that offers massive open online courses (MOOCs). The letter, collaboratively written by members of the department and approved by all, explained our reasons for resisting the implementation of JusticeX, a course based on videotaped lectures from Sandel’s massively popular Harvard course on justice, in our curriculum. We wrote:
There is no pedagogical problem in our department that JusticeX solves, nor do we have a shortage of faculty capable of teaching our equivalent course. We believe that long-term financial considerations motivate the call for massively open online courses (MOOCs) at public universities such as ours. Unfortunately, the move to MOOCs comes at great peril to our university. We regard such courses as a serious compromise of quality of education and, ironically for a social justice course, a case of social justice.
Although our letter sparked much needed discussion about the value of MOOCs, confusion remains about the options presented by new education technologies and the potential value they may have for higher learning.
Via Kim Flintoff, Peter Bryant