2014: The Year of MOOC Click Bait

The University of Pennsylvania invited several hundred education reporters to a seminar on MOOCs. The school expected 15 to 20 enrollees from media outlets, but as of the catering deadline, only four responded. So the group cancelled the event.

This is the premise under which the Chronicle of Higher Education provided the click-bait headline “2014: The Year the Media Stopped Caring About MOOCs?” The article, written by Steve Kolowich, is only a few hundred words and notes that discussion of the MOOC in mainstream media has not waned…meaning the article headline poses a provocative question that the text of the article not only fails to support but rather disputes. Reading the article does not ask the question Is the media craze for the MOOC dying? but rather makes the tepid statement A University did not get enough registrants for a seminar and decided to cancel it, hardly a front-page story.  If MOOC interest was truly waning, such a non-story would be relegated to the basement of Chronicle operations, accessible only by those empowering search and a desire to read all things MOOC.

Yet the daily Wired Campus Chronicle email blast showcased Kolowich’s article on April 15:Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 3.55.57 PM

To me, the subhead is the most eye-popping, making the erudite observation that while there is plenty of writing about MOOCs there might not be a lot of interest in attending MOOC seminars:  how is this even a story?  Yet my Twitter feed was overrun with retweets of this article, and even some discussion of its implications.  Because retweets are not necessarily endorsements of an article, I will refrain from listing example retweets of the article.  In my Twitter network, there were over a dozen retweets of the article across the day, and only Alan Levine’s retweet engaged the lack of substance within the article.

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 4.02.22 PMEvidently the Chronicle does not believe the MOOC is dying, as putting such a click bait article in a prime position did what they likely intended — drove up an audience (despite a lack of substantive analysis or information).  If the media or the edusphere is tired of the MOOC it fails to show in the proliferation of such an article.  We still care about MOOCs, and they are not going away any time soon.  Perhaps rather than pseudo-celebrating the potential demise of the MOOC we should asks ourselves why the end of the MOOC is so important.


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