MOOCs, or “massive open online courses” are the newest trend in the world of ICT for education. These online courses use a series of video modules to teach classes to an open audience. An article in The Atlantic debates whether or not MOOCs are innovative enough to be successful. It focuses on EdX, an organization that designs MOOCs that is the product of a partnership between MIT and Harvard. While only 7% of students who sign up for these classes complete them, the president of EdX Anant Argarwal stresses the fact that they are still new and have huge potential.
The author of the article, Robinson Meyer, argues that existing technology already achieves what these MOOCs aim to do. He even goes so far as to say that technology like email and interactive websites, used mainly for social purposes, can be more effective education tools: “…truly learning, I think, happens much more in those places, in places where one types, than on YouTube or in a MOOC course module, where one watches”. This argument makes sense to me, but I have a hard time imagining a publicly accessible email list that would function in an orderly manner. I agree that MOOCs in their simplest state of video modules will not facilitate lasting knowledge but I think that they hold potential. What separates MOOCs from existing technology is the idea that fuels them, the idea that universal access to knowledge is a real possibility with the use of ICTs. This may be an overly idealistic approach to education, but the funding and research going into the development of MOOCs suggest that they are not to be ignored. It will be interesting to see how this technology evolves in the coming years.