Professors’ open letter: MOOCs a ‘compromise of quality education’

SJSU professors said they wouldn’t oppose blended courses.

The latest professorial backlash against massive open online courses (MOOCs) comes from San Jose State University (SJSU), where just last month edX officials and MOOC advocates trumpeted the expansion of the online courses that have proven controversial in many circles of higher education.

Professors from SJSU’s philosophy department penned an open letter to Michael Sandel, a Harvard professor and the creator of a MOOC on Justice, saying that they wouldn’t adopt his MOOC because “having a scholar teach and engage with his or her own students is far superior to having those students watch a video of another scholar engaging his or her students.”

SJSU’s battle with some of its faculty members comes just days after Duke University faculty voted against an initiative that would have granted college credits to Duke students who took classes in online classes using 2U, which, unlike MOOCs, only hosts hundreds of students rather than tens or hundreds of thousands.

The university’s philosophy professors wrote that the mainstreaming of MOOCs would lead to deep stratification in higher education. One kind of school would be “well-funded colleges and universities in which privileged students get their own real professor; the other, financially stressed private and public universities in which students watch a bunch of videotaped lectures and interact, if indeed any interaction is available on their home campuses, with a professor that this model of education has turned into a glorified teaching assistant.”

See the edX president’s comments that irked some professors on Page 2…

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