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]