How should historians respond to MOOCs?


2012 was, in the words of the New York Times, the year of the MOOC. Massive open online courses have been hyped as a game changer, a way to dramatically scale down the cost of higher education while at the same time opening up access to the best professors in the world — the so-called “superprofessors.”

But critics of MOOCs have been fierce, questioning whether or not a MOOC can offer the same kind of value as a face-to-face class and if MOOCs will be used by administrators to slash costs by slashing faculty.

Princeton’s Jeremy Adelman and the University of Virginia’s Philip Zelikow, who have both led history MOOCs, sat down for a spirited debate with Colorado State Pueblo’s Jonathan Rees (one of the leading MOOC critics) and Ann Little (of the blog Historiann fame) at the American Historical Association annual meeting.

The panel was moderated by Elaine Carey, vice-president in charge of the AHA’s Teaching Division.

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