Jonathan Rees has a brilliant postmortem of the MOOC phenomenon and its rapid, silent demise over the past few years. He writes:
MOOCs are dead. “How can I possibly argue that MOOCs are dead?,” you may ask. After all, to borrow the stats just from Coursera, they have: 1600 courses, 130+ specializations, 145+ university partners, 22 million learners and 600,000 course certificates earned. More importantly, it appears that Coursera has received $146.1 million dollars over the years. Even though it hasn’t gotten any new funding since October 2015, unless Coursera tries to copy “Bachmanity Insanity” (Is Alcatraz still available for parties?) the company is going to be sticking around for quite a while.
What I mean when I say that MOOCs are dead is not that MOOCs no longer exist, but that MOOCs are no longer competing against universities for the same students. Continuing with the Coursera theme here, in August they became the last of the major MOOC providers to pivot to corporate training. While I did note the departure of Daphne Koller on this blog, I didn’t even bother to mention that pivot at the time because it seemed so unremarkable, but really it is.
He goes on to note that the critique that universities aren’t educating students through large lecture courses was appropriate, but that the remedy–selling video recordings of elite uni professors lecturing–was worse than the disease. At least you can interrupt your lecturing proffie in a RL classroom to ask for clarification or elaboration. You know, like you can talk to people in RL versus screaming at your television or computer monitor.
I just now did a quick search for the last time I wrote about MOOCs here on the blog, and it was sixteen months ago, and even then it was just to take a victory lap over the big nothingburger MOOCs had come to. It seems like the last time anyone took MOOCs seriously was three years ago, or in MOOC-world’s timescale, roughly around the Peace of Westphalia. Just because Jonathan and I and other MOOC skeptics were right doesn’t mean the struggle to protect educational and humanistic values is over. Not by a long shot: Continue reading