Rethinking MOOCs

The Chronicle, The Editorial Board, Oct 25, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This appears in Duke University's independent student newspaper and supports what I wrote in my article today: "The most valuable products that elite institutions like Duke sell for over $70,000 a year are not high-quality courses but rather the prestige of the Duke brand as well as access to networks of other talented students, professors and elite employers." Exactly. But here is where we disagree: "It is impossible to democratize access to these goods because their value depends on scarcity." No. Their price depends on scarcity. Their value is defined by the benefit they bring students. If the rest of the academic world - and not just the elites - focused on access to networks of other talented students, professors and quality employers, instead of churning out academic content like so much manufactured pablum, then the value would be increased, the scarcity would be reduced, costs would be lower, and the relative advantage the so-called elites have over the rest of us would be diminished and eventually be rendered quaint. Image: New York Times.

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