The recent backlash against MOOCs has tended to romanticize an ideal of public higher education, Libcom.org reports. Yet, education has always been tied up with systems of domination, and MOOCs present an opportunity to reveal the contradictions of higher education—to expose the emperor’s dirty secrets. … The technology of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offers a new tool for spreading higher education across the globe. As of May 2013, the for-profitCoursera had over 3.2 million registered users and contracts with over 60 universities, while the non-profit EdX had over 900,000 users and contracts with 27 universities. Most classes are coming from professors at elite universities such as Harvard and Stanford, lecturing to students all over the world. Beyond their potential ‘global’ reach, corporate philanthropists have touted MOOCs domestically as a solution to various ‘crises’ in higher education. In a time of state budget crises, they offer university administrators a cheaper mode of ‘delivering’ knowledge to student-customers. Further, they address the concern that many students who are ‘dropping out’ of schools and colleges do so because they are bored with them and want to have easier and cheaper access to more learning opportunities (Carr 2012). For example, see the Gates Foundation’s statement of support for MOOCs, including “strategic investments” in MOOCs of grants totaling over $3 million in 2012.

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