... I can’t express adequately just how pissed off I am about MOOCs – not the concept, but all the hubris and nonsense that’s been talked and written about them. At a personal level, it was as if 45 years of work was for nothing. All the research and study I and many others had done on what makes for successful learning online were totally ignored, with truly disastrous consequences in terms of effective learning for the vast majority of participants who took MOOCs from the Ivy League universities. Having ignored online learning for nearly 20 years, Stanford, MIT and Harvard had to re-invent online learning in their own image to maintain their perceived superiority in all things higher educational. And the media fell for it, hook, line and sinker. ...
The good thing about blogs is that you may be or even are supposed to take a personal stance. Tony Bates certainly does so here, announcing that he will significantly reduce his involvement in the online learning debate.
However, the present scoop is not to draw attention to this decision, it is to highlight his heartfelt complaint about the MOOC debates. It is a position I thoroughly sympathize with. There's nothing inherently wrong with the idea of having MOOCs, they are just another shoot on the tree of online learning. MOOCs should also be given credit for drawing wide attention to online learning modes and pointing out that they need not be second choice (whether they are or should be your first choice, all depends on the learning context). However, Tony is absolutely right to point out that the debate is not an academic debate about the vices and virtues of a particular form of (online) learning. Ignoring 30 years of research in online learning and distance education, as the MOOC proponents do, is bad academic practice.
So we should continue to research MOOCs, do experiments with them, share experiences. But we should give credit to people such as Tony Bates, who spent the better part of their professional lives carving out MOOC-like concepts of learning and doing the research to test their viability. I know, this is not what Tony Bates was after in his post, but he (and many others for that matter) do deserve to be given the credits that the MOOC pundits deny him. At their peril, I should add, because a great deal of valuable research results are now lost on them.