Note: I will use this space over the next month to share excerpts from my dissertation The Evolution & Impact of the Massive Open Online Course. The research was a Delphi study bringing together 20 MOOC experts to discuss the MOOC in educational, political, and sociocultural terms (slides from the oral presentation can be seen here). Upon library clearance, the entire document will be available through a Creative Commons license. The following is from Chapter 1, the argument for significance. This excerpt looks at the hype-based MOOC arguments seen in news media, as well as criticisms on the MOOC and its hype.
Distance education as industrialized model of learning. As mentioned previously, the field of distance education largely roots its history in structural changes to the transmission of information. This idea of education as a technological structure can be traced within the literature to Otto Peters (1983). Contemporary leaders in the field of educational technology and MOOCs have positioned their technologies as a wave of innovation in a system inert for over 100 years (Khan & Noer, 2012; Thrun, 2012), but Peters traces the inertia back to the Renaissance, arguing the advent of distance education was the first change to the system, and positioning a concept of distance education that promotes flexibility, efficiency and scalability (Peters, 1983). To accomplish this, the historical notion of a singular instructor, who throughout history has been a lone person involved in numerous aspects of a student’s education within a course, is replaced, and the instructional labor is divided into multiple positions filled by multiple individuals, each focused on one aspect of the learning process:
In distance study the teaching process is based on the division of labour and detached from the person of the university lecturer. It is therefore independent from a subjectively determined teaching situation…the division of labour and the objectification of the teaching process allow each work process to be planned in such a way that clearly formulated teaching objectives are achieved in the most efficient manner. Specialists may be responsible for a limited area in each phase (pg. 98).
The New York Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Trump Entrepreneur Institute (formerly Trump University) for what it calls blatant lies and misleading information on the value of services it provides. The lawsuit, which calls the initiative a sham (including calling themselves Trump University, showing pictures of certificates, exploring the connections a student can gain through association with the group), seeks $40,000,000 in restitution for individuals who have paid upwards of $35,000 for the opportunity to learn from Mr. Trump in fields such as Real Estate and Business Administration. According to the lawsuit, the workshops, lectures and mentorships through Trump University do not include Mr. Trump, but the one-on-one mentorship programs and support structures, encouraged as an up-sell during the initial three-day seminars, were largely ignored by Trump Entrepreneur Institute’s team of experts, a team which the deposition says was in no way influenced by Mr. Trump. This leaves the situation as a blame game, with customers upset about broken promises and photo ops with a Trump cutout, and Trump alluding to the whole thing as a witch hunt propelled by the Obama administration.
While the allegations against Trump cast him in a felonious light and paint him as a charlatan, I am fixated on a foundational aspect of the story – why would anyone think Donald Trump could teach?
I should have known David Annand’s 2007 article on reorganizing universities for the information age would be a challenging read based on the keywords: Industrialization, Fordism, Luddites. Annand, a professor at Athabasca University (home of cMOOC innovators George Siemens & Stephen Downes), wrote about the changes he saw necessary in the digital age of higher education. His literature review, theoretical foundation and arguments ran in a direction I did not expect, calling into questions some of the beliefs I had built in my quest to define MOOC. Finding resistance, I am going to dive deep into the writing to see where the differentiation is and why. Continue reading →