Let them eat MOOCs

One late afternoon last spring I received a visit from a former student and budding entrepreneur. I usually schedule these meetings at the end of the workday. It feels like a treat, witnessing aspiration and insight blend into leadership to create something new, Harvard Business Review reports.

Luis (not his real name), however, had not come to see me for leadership advice. He had come to pitch his tech startup and ask for my involvement.

The venture, he explained, would contribute to the ongoing disruption and reinvention of business education and allow anyone anywhere — not just those as fortunate as himself — to have access to my teaching and insights online, for free.

While I would not be compensated, I’d have the opportunity to reach a broader audience and to be at the front — and on the right side — of the online revolution in education. I would become a better teacher, help democratize management learning, and secure my own and my school’s place among the survivors and beneficiaries of digital disruption.

I had heard all those arguments before. Reach. Scale. Efficiency. Democratization.  This was my third such conversation in six months, including one with a pioneer of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), the first wave of a digital tsunami headed towards the shores of higher education.

When I pointed out that I already share and discuss ideas freely online, in this blog and on Twitter, Luis beamed. That was why he had reached out, he said.

Apparently I have the right profile for a MOOC professor. I’m young enough to be threatened, good enough to be useful, and tech savvy enough to be interested. (Perhaps also vain enough to be flattered). My fondness for the Internet as a public agorá is surely a sign that I want it to become my open classroom as well.

Actually, no. It isn’t.

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