Are superprofessors (i.e. the people who run MOOCs) enemies of justice in academia for faculty at all levels? You might think so by reading the results of this Chronicle of Higher Education survey of superprofessors in all disciplines:
Many of those surveyed felt that these free online courses should be integrated into the traditional system of credit and degrees. Two-thirds believe MOOCs will drive down the cost of earning a degree from their home institutions, and an overwhelming majority believe that the free online courses will make college less expensive in general.
And those savings will come from where exactly? Or then there’s this:
A number of the professors in the survey said they hoped to use MOOCs to increase their visibility, both among colleagues within their discipline (39 percent) and with the media and the general public (34 percent).
This opportunity was not lost on Mr. Sedgewick, the Princeton professor. “Every single faculty member has the opportunity to extend their reach by one or two or three orders of magnitude,” he said.
And at who’s expense will your visibility and reach improve?
I could go on for pages fisking this thing, but I won’t because I want to get to my action plan before I have to start teaching today. I propose a superprofessor education project. Everyone reading this should pick a superprofessor in their discipline and start e-mailing them immediately, explaining the employment situation at their home institutions and why they’re afraid that the widescale acceptance of MOOCs might leave them or other colleagues at their home institutions jobless.
Trust me, I’ve got two historians covered already, but I figure the more the merrier! After all, if, as the Chronicle suggests, 79% of superprofessors surveyed really do think MOOCs are worth the hype, then it’s time for the MOOC backlash to generate some grassroots hype of its own.
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting any kind of harassment here. It just strikes me that an awful lot of people running MOOCs or who will be running MOOCs or who are considering running MOOCs need to learn a few things about how these courses are already playing out in the real world. This kind of reasoned dialogue can only help us all.