Commentary: Daphne Koller and the problem with Coursera

Coursera is a for-profit company that has joined with top universities to deliver free online courses. The “free” part sounds great until we realize the real intent of companies like Coursera is to transition into producing monetized, for-credit university courses, Irene Ogrizek, an English literature teacher, writes. To many academics this represents a conflict of interest that compromises the independence and integrity of higher education institutions. … The corporate world has other tentacles in education and the portal that’s granting them the most access these days is technology. In Benda’s terms, the current “realism” being foisted on academics is the idea that online distance-learning, in the form of massive online open courses (MOOCs), must be implemented to save cash-strapped institutions. The idea is being flogged by corporations looking to expand their markets and has found support among co-opted academics willing to help them. These are academics, like Lynch, who have made Faustian bargains in return for the glory of heading institutions operating in the black. … The incursion of the corporate world into education makes sense when we consider that declining disposable incomes are depriving businesses of the spenders they need to stay profitable. If people aren’t buying the goods and services that keep economies afloat then how can corporations survive?

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