Massive Possibilities? A Forum on MOOCs

Felicia Chernesky

Editor’s Note: Massive Online Open Courses, or MOOCs, have emerged as a great hope for education reform in the eyes of many, perhaps especially among conservatives, traditionalists, and classical liberals fed up with the state of the academy and the intransigence of the faculty after years of cogent and conscientious opposition to the decline in standards. Academic Questions has already presented an extensive argument against online learning by Donald Phillip Verene in our Fall 2013 issue (“Does Online Education Rest on a Mistake?”), but we know that the jury is still out—and regardless of the verdict a certain measure of online learning is here to stay. One finds conscientious thinkers on both sides of the issue, and we present a few of them here. According to Mohammed Gad-el-Hak, “Humans are social beings and learning is a social process. Both require connection and interaction to flourish.” Thus true teaching and learning must be a personal experience and cannot take place in the impersonal coolness of the digital world. For his part, Herbert I. London questions whether much learning is taking place in classrooms today altogether. He argues that better pedagogy is available online, and needn’t be without personal interaction if mentors are assigned to respond to students’ demands, although this would probably not be possible in the case of truly massive courses. Rachelle DeJong Peterson, National Association of Scholars research associate, has been following developments closely and gives a more detailed objection to various aspects of online courses. Thomas K. Lindsay relates his own positive experience teaching two online courses, although not “massive” ones, and suggests a middle path as a solution.

  • Share
Most Commented

August 23, 2021


Testing the Tests for Racism

What is the veracity of "audit" studies, conducted primarily by sociologists, that appear to demonstrate that people of color confront intense bias at every level of society?...

April 16, 2021


Social Justice 101: Intro. to Cancel Culture

Understanding the illogical origin of cancel culture, we can more easily accept mistakes, flaws, and errors in history, and in ourselves, as part of our fallen nature....

April 19, 2021


Critical Race Theory and the Will to Power

A review of "1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project" by NAS President Peter W. Wood....

Most Read

May 30, 2018


The Case for Colonialism

From the summer issue of Academic Questions, we reprint the controversial article, "The Case for Colonialism." ...

March 20, 2019


Remembering Columbus: Blinded by Politics

American colleges and universities have long dispensed with efforts to honor or commemorate Christopher Columbus. But according to Robert Carle, “most Americans know very little about......

August 24, 2021


Reviving American Higher Education: An Analysis and Blueprint for Action

Most of the problems in higher education are rooted in an unexamined rejection of Western civilization's moral tradition. This malady requires moral correction and meaningful accountabil......