MOOC Skeptic’s Toolkit: Sample Letter #3, to a Parent

Martin Kich, Oct 26, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I'm not really sure how the "MOOC Sceptic's Toolkit" published in the American Association of University Professors's Academe Blog is helping anyone. This edition features a 'sample letter' to be sent to parents and newspapers, but while it starts off well it eventually becomes a characteristically academic tome. Worse, it shows zero comprehension of how a MOOC operates. Consider this bit: "If there are 30,000 students enrolled in a 15-week MOOC and each of those students were to send just one e-mail to the instructor over that semester, the instructor would need to answer 2,000 e-mails per week." That's why MOOCs do not employ bilateral communications. D'uh. The professors' concern comes out several paragraphs later in the letter: "although university administrations have continued to find new ways to squeeze savings from the instructional end of their institutions’ budgets, we are clearly approaching a point at which a 'quality education' will be little more than an empty promise at many institutions."

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