Udacity partnership raises questions about the future of MOOCs

Bloomberg Businessweek has an interesting look at DYI genetics company 23andMe’s moves to keep ahead of the competition out to help you get to know yourself really, really well, Silicon Beat reports.

The part of 23andMe’s strategy that I found the most interesting was the the way the company is teaming up with Udacity, the provider of massive, open online courses, to produce a college-level class on genetics and, presumably, how to use a service like (surprise!) 23andMe to map your own genome.

Udacity announced the class called “Tales from the Genome” over the summer and it starts today. Here’s 23andMe’s own blog post on it.

I’ve been a big proponent of MOOCs, which have become something of a hot-button among academics who understandably feel threatened by the idea of being replaced by a video-lecturer who can reach millions of students at a time.

My argument has been that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for a MOOC. College professors and other teachers, in fact, could use the online courses as a supplement. Working professionals, those living in the developing world and others who simply can’t find their way to a college campus, could have the chance to take courses they never would be able to take otherwise.

It’s the old story: a massive, online course is only a tool. It’s how you use it that makes all the difference.

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