Bruno: It's OK When Online Courses Are Traditional
As he points out, MOOCs mostly just offer the potential for a more efficient and egalitarian distribution of the same higher education resources currently offered at elite universities. That's potentially very important, but it distinctly does not involve reconceptualizing teaching in higher education. Butin thinks this fundamental traditionalism is a problem, arguing that MOOC projects like MITx "have replicated all of the problems of the traditional industrial-age model of lecture-based teaching and testing that has minimal linkage to student outcomes."
This fundamental traditionalism in MOOCs doesn't really worry me, however.
Nor do I agree with Butin that it is "sad" that "much of teaching...is highly prescribed and structured". While students at the college level may be expert enough to benefit from less-structured instruction, the research indicates that more guidance in instruction is generally better.
Like Butin, I would like to see MOOCs offer more immediate feedback and fine-grained responsiveness to students, and think they have tremendous potential in that regard. (Think Khan Academy but more agile and aimed at higher education.)
In some ways that would be a progressive educational advance, but at the same time it's not all that different from the kind of educational paradigm B.F. Skinner was advocating almost a century ago and is therefore, in its own way, very traditional. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)