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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

MOOCs, PR, and Popularity


Hashtags: #mooc #education #pedagogy #distancelearning

Read OP-ED: MOOCS AND THE ROCKSTAR LECTURER and thought differently...

So the argument is that quiet professors are at a disadvantage when it comes to teaching in MOOCs (but not in face-to-face scenarios) because incompetent but popular professors have more opportunities given the high production teams that promote this type of online delivery? The argument is that society places more value on extroverts regardless of knowledge/pedagogical competence?

The following are warrants that I don't fully embrace:
  • If teachers lack professional competence but are outgoing, have a “MOOCish style” (?), and are “splashy” (?), then students (or society) will place them on a pedestal and will have a professional advantage over “quiet” teachers.
  • “Quiet” teachers are inherently placed at a disadvantage that exists in MOOCs that do not exist in face-to-face scenarios.
  • “Quiet” teachers are modest and MOOC teachers are not.
  • If a professor teaches a MOOC, a certain pedagogical style is a given.
  • If the production value of a MOOC is high, then so too is its educational value (and vice versa).
  • If the production value of a MOOC is high, then so too are the odds of hiring a “MOOC-style”, “rockstar” professor.
  • All teachers are qualified and/or have an interest in teaching in a MOOC.
  • If teachers are quiet and competent, no student will appreciate them, if they teach online although they may if the same teacher teaches face to face.
Further phrases that obscure…
  • …they’ve raised the status of the rock star lecturer to the point where normal teaching looks shabby in comparison. [What is “normal” teaching?]
  • But there are also quiet teachers who are just as effective for other reasons. [Just as effective for other reasons suggests that rockstar professors are effective for reasons other than their love for the subject, the clarity of their explanations, etc.]
  • It’s important to me that we not leave these teachers behind. [Who are “we” and what exactly are “we” to do? Whose responsibility is it?
  • …not all MOOCs have documentary-style pizazz, but those that do create unrealistic expectations about what online courses should look like. [So MOOCs with “pizazz” create unrealistic expectations - an anthropomorphism…about what online courses should look like? Are looks all that important? Or does this refer to all aspects of an online course?]
  • “Quiet”, “splashing” and “MOOC-style” teachers…vague.
I get the sense that there is actually some underlining problem here that is being glazed over by making broad claims with little evidence (i.e., details, examples, etc.) and shaky warrants. If a certain group of teachers are being neglected for specific reasons, have that discussion. Getting past the hyperbole, I have a genuine interest in getting to the root of this argument so to better understand what truly distinguishes teachers between those who succeed online and face to face, or if there are more similarities than differences.