It’s Been a Busy Month in MOOCs & Beyond

In my experience as a professor, April truly is the cruelest month because it’s when everything that’s been lingering from the academic year happens. It’s when all the paperwork and proposals are due, it’s when every event recognizing student and faculty success is held, it’s when the last (and usually most dramatic) department meetings take place, and it is the when graduating students finally get to graduate. So I haven’t posted here lately not because there isn’t a lot of news, but because, well, it’s been busy.

Anyway, a few selective updates:

  • The new book cover is here! I like it– not that I had anything to do with it exactly– but more important from my point of view is it’s another major step in the right direction. Plus it has also pushed me into revising this web site to match the book (and vice-versa too, I suppose).
  • “What Do OPMs Do?” from something called Elearning Inside. It’s a simple enough summary, though it’s interesting to note that it also recaps the saga at EMU with “Academic Partnerships” which I discuss in the closing chapter of the book.
  •  An interview from Inside Higher Ed with David J. Staley about his book Alternative Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education. I’ve only read the interview but it looks like an interesting read. He mentions his fascination with the biographies of some of the innovators in higher education in the U.S., including Abraham Flexner who (among many other things) was critical of a lot of correspondence courses universities were offering in the early part of the 20th century. Staley also has a lot of praise for Western Governors University and Southern New Hampshire.
  • From CHE comes “How UT-Austin’s Bold Plan for Reinvention Went Belly Up.” One of the many things I didn’t touch on at all in More Than a Moment–in fact, I hadn’t heard about this at all until I read about it in this article– is the dramatic rise and fall of an experiment at the University of Texas at Austin called Project 2021. Among other things, the program’s executive director, James Pennebaker, was excited to announce their own version of MOOCs they called a “synchronous massive online course” or SMOC. The parallels at UT-Austin with MOOCs around the world are pretty obvious.
  • “Going Outside to Grow” is an Inside Higher Ed article about the use of OPMs at Michigan State (and also their ambitions to become a more national university, perhaps in the mold of Arizona State?).
  • Last but far from least: in the beginning of April, Kevin Carey published an article at Huffington Post, “The Creeping Capitalist Takeover of Higher Education.”  As has been the case with almost everything I’ve read from Carey, I think he is often correct and he is often wrong. And oddly with this article, he recycles a lot of the magical thinking solutions he proposes in The End of College. Well, I blogged extensively about it here, I ended up arguing with Carey and others about it on Twitter in a few places (here’s an example), and here’s a piece in IHE where a bunch of different distance ed experts weigh in on Carey’s article. It would seem that most of the folks I’m reading/interacting with agree with me on this– though to his credit, Carey’s direct approach (“OPMs are always bad bad bad”) and his vaporware solution of free and giant online courses that somehow aren’t MOOCs probably helps him sell books and get published in places like HuffPo.

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