The Ivy and the Ive
So the MOOCs as the disruption, because change simple can’t be continual. Perhaps drastic change is a more dynamic source of momentum, an educational shock doctrine if you will that those opposed to it must simple be little more than useful idiots.
The scalability of MOOCs is seen as a key selling point, but does this scale also not represent a refactoring in terms of attendance, but also of provision. The major (commercial) MOOC providers are the US Ivy League, and akin to say Silicon Valley, or Hollywood (hence the horrible pun). As the wealthier Universities, and those (if we ignore Oxbridge) with the strongest “brand” – for want of using a commercial phrase – are likely to be the preference. You could happily argue this has always been the way with Universities.
However, these Universities have also been around for longer, and have had the chance to serve and develop around their publics and students. They have developed to their position in the same way Hollywood developed into what it now is. Bollywood is within itself both a rival and a tribute, and in film, in the larger countries you see distinct national voices expressed via film. Some of this is only really as a factor of language availability – larger countries speaking one language will have a greater voice, and so a greater market. Film is merely one cultural product, and with music (take world music as the “non-western” catch all. So as we already have dominant set of Universities, and we see an action where it is likely this development will become concentrated. Even if the MOOC world never confers one degree, would you go to your local University night school or college, or Harvard, to take a course for fun? Because we believe, innately, this is better.
So what of this as a potential criticism – that the M for massive of MOOCs could have been the mass of mass transit or mass innoculation. The scalar element is not about the people for whom it is built to serve, but instead as a characteristic of the provider. Compare this with the concept of the public good, public transport and public Universities. Does the action of removing “ive” from massive add a social conscious currently missing from MOOCs? Would mass systems use VCs, or be in competition? Or would they share platforms, and encourage local partnerships and integration? Massive itself tends to hegemony, whereas the mass itself tends to heterogenity, because it has needs that are catered for. The MOOC course and its thousands of students is the Hollywood blockbuster, the lecturers the oocsar winners, but in countries without rivals to these MOOCs how will they develop their education systems to rival this? Is the MOOC an alternative to Universities developing in other countries – and like free trade, will it tend to domination of a few providers rather than a solution for the masses.