A MOOC Delusion: Why Visions to Educate the World Are Absurd

Ghanashyam Sharma, Jul 15, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Let's grant, provisionally, Ghanashyam Sharma's assertion that "Academic disciplines and teaching/learning environments (or, put simply, courses) are almost always highly specialized and situated in local academic systems and cultures." It would follow that if a course consisted entirely of the production of one such system or culture, it might not translate well to other systems or cultures. Or it might; it may well depend a lot on the course. But what if the course consisted of contributions from a multitude of such cultures? There may well be an incommernsurability of meaning across systems and cultures, but I don't think it's so radical as the author supposes, and probably does not require (as suggested) years of studies at the 101 level of each individual culture. People from different cultures can talk to each other. So I think that the vision of the people of the world educating themselves by means of MOOCs is not so delusional - indeed, it only becomes so when it's only one person who decides he or she is going to save the world.

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