Last summer, when I was creating a course on critical thinking (tied to the 2012 Presidential election), I did segments on Media Literacy and Information Literacy, which ended with an analysis of a specific issue that taught me to avoid confusing momentum a particular storyline was getting in the news with an actual trend, The Huffington Post reports. And in the case of MOOCs, the negative stories that have been appearing lately no more spell doom than all those positive stories we saw last year meant a new educational era was in the offing. For, as everyone involved with them will tell you, MOOCs are a work in progress — usually referred to as an “experiment.” But unlike a scientific experiment that can keep controls and treated samples isolated in separate test tubes, the MOOC experiment is playing out in one of the messier corners of the already messy real world: academia. To highlight just one example of how much we’re talking about a moving target, twelve months ago there were not enough MOOC courses to threaten many departments, nor were the licensing deals in place that allowed schools to use courses from companies like edX or Coursera as classroom resources. But now that such content and deals are in place, it’s only natural that faculties start debating what they want to do (if anything) with all this new stuff.
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