How do I know? Here’s Justin Reich from HarvardX summarizing the stats in that neck of the woods:
For the 790 days encompassed in the report, new participants entered at a rate of about 1,300 per day.
More importantly, here’s Anant Agarwal of edX on LinkedIn turning lemons into some rather funny-tasting lemonade:
As MOOCs have evolved, they now offer a more personal experience for students. What we’re finding is that students really enjoy the interactive self-paced technologies like short videos that you can pause and rewind, virtual game-like laboratories, discussion forums, and instantly graded exercises. Referring to the Sal Khan-style videos I used in my Circuits MOOC, a student once wrote me saying he felt as if I was sitting next to him scribbling a personal tutorial. These technologies are only expected to continue to evolve, and learning will further personalize, offering multiple pathways to navigate courses that fit specific learning styles, needs and speeds.
Unfortunately, “personalized” and “personal” do not mean the same thing. As Agarwal himself points out, the first word describes a “choose your own adventure” book. The second word describes talking about the book over dinner with the author.
Here’s why no faculty member should let this mistake go uncorrected: It might stick. As Nick Carr explained earlier today:
Computers and people work in different ways. When any task is shifted from a person to a computer, therefore, the task changes in order to be made suitable for the computer. As the process of automation continues, the context in which the task is performed also changes, in order to be made amenable to automation. The enterprise changes, the school changes, the hospital changes, the household changes, the economy changes, the society changes.
With respect to schools at the very least, this is not a change for the better. In a face-to-face college class, it actually is possible to share a conversation with the author of the book over dinner. A MOOC is like going to see a Michael Jackson concert and getting his hologram instead.
Perhaps there is a place for hologram teachers in industrial education – assuming that corporations don’t really care about critical thinking and only want their employees to be familiar with content. If that’s the case, then maybe we don’t have to actually kill them. We could just banish them to some remote corner of the higher education kingdom so that real educators will never have to worry about them again.
However, as long as any kind of all-MOOC education remains a viable degree-granting option, then the work of dedicated faculty runs the risk of being defined out of existence. Then who’s going to carry who to the mass grave?
“How do you know he’s a superprofessor?”
“He hasn’t got shit all over him.”