Making MOOCs less spooky

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MOOCs  are a scary concept for higher ed, but being uninformed about them is scarier.  For some background I read The One World Schoolhouse, which tells the story of Khan Academy (a MOOC forerunner).

Khan (2012) addresses the misconception of his videos as a substitute for more interactive experiences.  He describes them as part of  multiage, self-paced, flipped classrooms (pp. 203-206).  He writes, “It was never my vision that watching computer videos and working out problems should comprise a kid’s entire education” (p. 149).

As the book corrects misconceptions, it raises new questions.  With the transmission of content separated from other aspects of teaching, for example, how would faculty development change?  Also, Khan (2012) mentions a team of teachers circulating among as many as 100 students.  The team would leverage the strengths of multiple teachers but still maintain a small enough student-teacher ratio (pp. 203-204).  Though I have no problem with team teaching, does the student-teacher ratio apply when the teacher doesn’t have a consistent smaller group of students?

I also wonder about potential misuses of the idea.  If we inform ourselves, though, we can better influence the discussions–and the MOOCs themselves.

I thank those of you who are already informing yourselves about MOOCs.  I wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween as well.


Khan, S. (2012). The one world schoolhouse: Education reimagined. New York: Twelve.