This was the narrative behind the explosion of xMOOCs that began with the Stanford Artificial Intelligence course back in 2011 and which hogged the media spotlight at the cost of more low-profile but much more innovative projects within the education community like Peer2Peer University, OER university and all the connectivist MOOCs.
“This analysis also reveals why other open education initiatives haven’t garnered as much attention. They often seek to supplement or complement education, thus ruining the education is broken argument. Similarly, they are often conducted by those who work in higher education, which undermines the narrative of external agents promoting change on a sector that is out of touch. And lastly, they are supported by not-for-profit institutions, which does not fit the model of new, disruptive businesses emerging.”
So where are we today? I see this year as the year when the MOOC as a concept melts into something else as the hype-seekers move on. The MOOCs will keep on coming but the rhetoric will change and they will find a place in the educational ecosystem.
They are after all simply one part of a longer evolutionary process. What is clear is that there will be a wide range of paths to learning; some very traditional, some radical and experimental and others on a scale between the two.
The problems occur when we start comparing apples with pears and claim that the new will sweep away the old. The new will complement the old and offer more choice and new opportunities that will benefit more people than the present system does.