Teaching a massive open online course is seen as a feather in the cap for many academics: an opportunity to reach thousands of students, increase personal notoriety and boost the reputation of one’s university.
For one Mooc teacher, however, his course resulted in him nearly losing his job, Times Higher Education reports, catching the attention of several Middle Eastern regimes and having to ban disruptive students from course discussions.
The course, Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World, was taught by Ebrahim Afsah, associate professor of public international law at the University of Copenhagen. It ran for 10 weeks, from December 2013, on the US Mooc platform Coursera.
“If you are teaching a controversial course, there is a risk of physical and reputational damage to you,” he told a conference for partners of Coursera, held in London last month, adding that he had “almost” lost his job because of the controversy his Mooc attracted.