The MOOC revolution that wasn't

Audrey Watters, The Daily Dot, Aug 28, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

'Tis the season to dissect the "failure" of MOOCs - or, to be specific, the rarefied Silicon Valley version of MOOCs, which is all anyone ever talks about. That narrative was that "MOOC startups Udacity, Coursera, and edX all promised that their free online courses with massive enrollment figures would 'democratize education.'" Of course that didn't happen. More interesting is what these MOOCs identified as the core value proposition. "“At the end of the day, the true value proposition of education is employment,” Thrun told Fast Company... This new narrative, according to George Siemens, one of the originators of the MOOC concept, casts education as simply skills training." But of course that's not democratization at all. The objective of education is and ought to be personal empowerment, to help people become less dependent on, say, a job, and more able to build networks, innovate, create value, and achieve purpose in life. But it takes more than just free content to support that. It takes a community, a network.

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