To MOOC or not to MOOC? Harvard literary theorist Stephen Greenblatt ponders the future

Editor Paul Glader sat in on a lecture today at Frei Universitat by Harvard University professor Stephen Greenblatt, arguably the most notable literary critic today and a founder of the New Historicism literary theory. He’s a star, Wired Academic reports. He spoke about Shakespeare. Our ears perked up, however, when his response to the first question from the audience about pedagogy veered off into MOOCland: “At Harvard, there is a massive discussion about MOOCs,” he told the crowd of several hundred people crowded into the sloping auditorium in the university on the West side of Berlin.  He realized some of the audience didn’t seem to understand what a MOOC stands for. “If it hasn’t started coming here yet, it will soon,”  he said. So he explained it a bit, telling the story of Sebastian Thrun at Stanford and how he founded Udacity. He made a joke about Stanford being a school that aims to profit from this kind of technology. Regardless, he emphasized that the MOOC trend is rippling throughout Academia. … “Because this group is German, you have an unbelievable ability to sit and listen for long periods of times,” he said. “Now, people are breaking lectures into 10 minute chunks… for me, it feels like a death.”  

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