High-Profile MOOC Prof Dumps Coursera

Princeton professor says MOOCs are an excuse to cut funding to state universities

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A professor who was trumpeted as early evidence of MOOC’s acceptance and success in top schools, will pull his course off the Coursera site, saying that he now worries that online courses will be used to justify cuts in state funding for universities.

“I’ve said no because I think that it’s an excuse for state legislatures to cut funding to state universities,” Professor Mitchell Duneier told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “And I guess that I’m really uncomfortable being part of a movement that’s going to get its revenue in that way.”

The press pointed to Duneier as a paragon of MOOC success in the Ivy League last year. His class was featured on the front page of the New York Times last November; Thomas L. Friedman wrote about him in his Times opinion column. Duneier raved about his own experience in a Chronicle commentary last year. And one of Coursera’s founders plugged his course in a TED talk. His introductory sociology course will be disconnected only a year and a half after Princeton University began offering online courses through Coursera.

Duneier had a change of heart when Coursera approached him about licensing his course so that other colleges could use the content in a blended format (combining online and face-to-face instruction) and save money in the process. He worries that such deals will allow legislatures to cut funding to schools. He says he would consider teaching a MOOC again under the right circumstances, “but I’m not optimistic about that right now.”

[Chronicle of Higher Education]


This is an interesting issue.  There is a need for a formal and documented education from an accredited institution and there are thousands of  THEM.   From a Harvard Phd to an Associate degree from a local community college they are all important in terms of documenting education and individual achievement.  It remains the time test way of doing it.   The flip side of the coin is this: there are 7,000,000,000 people on earth and most of them are illiterate.  1% is 70,000,000 and even today we do not have 70 million people who have acquired functional literacy.  [Wikipedia claims  84.1%    male:    88.6% female:  79.7%    age 15 and over can read and write (2010 est.)]   but that is doubtful because if you have traveled outside of Europe, N. America and industrialized Asia then you did not find functional literacy in much of the world.  SO there is a recipient who can acquire knowledge who does not have access to public schools, community colleges or universities.  It is a  large and growing part of the world.  What is more there is no money in their countries for classrooms, teachers, teaching aids and so the Internet and the proliferation of access devices make learning available to a much bigger segment of population who need it.  Many people [profit by restricting literacy and learning.  (keep them ignorant and they are easier to exploit)   But in the long run the more widespread learning the better our species will be.