For all the hype about massive open online courses (or in part perhaps because of the hype), the Inside Higher Ed survey found skepticism among both faculty members and technology administrators about many aspects of MOOCs. Relatively small percentages of faculty members and technology administrators appear to believe the hype or agree with some of the statements made by MOOC proponents.
For example, the proportion of faculty who strongly disagree with the statement, “MOOCs make me excited about the future of academe”: 46%. The proportion of faculty who disagree or strongly disagree with the statement, “Higher education should award credit for MOOCs”: 49%. I knew that things would end up this way eventually, I just didn’t think it would happen quite so fast. Looking at the entire survey, it appears that the hype about MOOCs has actually fed greater hostility among faculty towards online education in generally, which oddly enough makes me kind of sad.
The question then becomes what are administrators going to do about technology moving forward. I’m glad they included my bit about the distinction between MOOC providers and MOOC consumers. If somebody at Duke wants to flip their own classroom with their own lectures, then they know that their administration won’t take that classroom away from them. The same can’t be said for people at the average community college or mid-tier regional state university.
To impose MOOCs upon schools with budget problems is like forcing factory workers to train their own non-union replacements, and this isn’t going to go over very well. When I suggest a “professor-centered technological universe,” what I mean is edtech from the bottom up, not the top down. We use what works for us rather than one size fits all. Michael Feldstein of e-Literate is quoted in this same article:
“I don’t think anyone serious is going to argue that online learning is inherently better than face-to-face learning, nor do I think that anyone is going to argue that online learning is always as good,” he said. “But until we see 50 percent of faculty at least say that online learning can be as effective as face-to-face, I don’t think we can say that we’re seeing the cultural change necessary for institutions to fully embrace the value of technology.”
That culture certainly isn’t going to change wherever MOOCs are imposed by administrations unilaterally. Indeed, I would argue (and this is not a threat, it’s simple human nature) that with these levels of hostility on the part of faculty this might actually start a war. And, as the song says, that’s good for absolutely nothing.
I realize that my last two non-MOOC posts may seem a little extreme to some people, but really my labor politics aren’t radical at all. I simply believe that professors and administrators should sit down in an environment of mutual respect and work out educational issues together. It’s only extreme if you believe that the norm is for universities to be managed by administrative fiat.
Universities can’t run on hype, and they can’t run without faculty either.