acm - an acm publication
2014 - August
  • MOOCs: Symptom, Not Cause of Disruption: MOOCs and technology to advance learning and learning research (Ubiquity symposium)
    Is the MOOCs phenomenon a disruptive innovation or a transient bubble? It may be partly both. Broadcasting lectures and opening up courses via MOOCs by itself poses little change of the academic status quo. But academia is part of a broader academic-bureaucratic complex that provided a core framework for industrial-age institutions. The academic-bureaucratic complex rests on the premise that knowledge and talent must be scarce. Presumed scarcity justifies filtering access to information, to diplomas, and to jobs. But a wave of post-industrial technical, economic, and social innovations is making knowledge and talent rapidly more abundant and access more "open." This mega-trend is driving the academic-bureaucratic complex toward bankruptcy. It is being replaced by new, radically different arrangements of learning and work. The embrace of MOOCs is a symptom, not a cause of academia's obsolescence.