Thursday, January 9, 2014

Passing Fads: A Retrospective View

I just received an email update from a source that I will refrain from naming out of professional courtesy because of my reaction to it. This update contained a "paper" which made some pretty bold claims about the nature of MOOCs and other "passing fads" like Khan Academy.

The source alleged incorrectly that Khan Academy is a for-profit institution trying to pass itself off as a degree-bearing academy of higher education. Anyone who knows Khan Academy well knows how inherently misled (I'm going to avoid the allegation of it being intentionally misleading and assume that intentions were good, albeit misinformed and hastily formed) the author of that paper was in making the assertion.

What worries me, though, is that there are folks new to e-learning who read this type of assertion and accept it on face value. And who has the time to dig through the background on every issue in every article we read coming through our email inbox?

Gentle reader, please know that whether MOOCs stay in their current form or whether they morph into something we will not recognize over the next decade, their impact on the higher education landscape is both irrefutable and immutable. If you find speculations (or if those speculations find you) that disparage or minimize the value, the impact or the potential of MOOCs, of LORs (Learning Object Repositories) like Khan, or of any other Web-based technological advancement that impacts our teaching and learning culture, please remember and consider this interview from scientist Clifford Stoll, who claimed in 1995 that the Internet is "not that important," "grossly oversold" and had "so little of value" that it would never take hold. Please review this post by the same fellow.

And stay tuned.

Postscript: Interestingly, Clifford Stoll presented this TED talk in 2006 titled The Call to Learn.

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