MOOCs and Digital Diploma Mills: Forgetting Our History

David Wiley, BC Campus, Feb 25, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

David Wiley wsrites, "When David Noble first published his groundbreaking critique of online education in 1998, Digital Diploma Mills: The Automation of Higher Education, I thought to myself 'he couldn’t be more wrong.' As it turns out he might not have been wrong – maybe Noble was simply so miraculously prescient that I couldn’t see what he saw." My comment is: Noble's error is the same today as it was in 1998: seeing commercialism in all online learning, instead of online learning as it is being used by commercial learning. Yes, there are 'digital diploma mills', just as there were in 1998, and yes, online learning is overhyped by those who oppose, and would like to do away with, the public education system. But that was also true in 1998. Online learning remains the last best hope to *prevent* the Noble scenario, but arguments such as his led (and still leads) a complacent professoriate to pretend it's just a commercial fad and will go away.

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