The voluntariat performs skilled work that might still command a wage without compensation, allegedly for the sake of the public good, regardless of the fact that it also contributes directly and unambiguously to the profitability of a corporation. Like the proletariat, then, the voluntariat permits the extraction of surplus value through its labor.How companies like Coursera use volunteer labor to expand their profit margins.
Udacity, who, along with Coursera and edX, has been one of the "big three" MOOC providers is stepping back from its initial vision, to refocus on corporate training. Now that we've had a bit of time to think through the potential offered by MOOCs, and to assess how well they live up to them in practice, what conclusions are people drawing? Is it possible that MOOCs have value, but just aren't the same sort of animal as a traditional "bricks and mortar" course? Jonathan Freedman, from the University of Michigan, thinks so, and calls them "usefully Middlebrow." John Covach of the University of Rochester talks in depth about his own experiences, and frames MOOC courses as more akin to a public lecture series than a college course.
The New Yorker takes on the MOOC: “One of the edX people said, ‘This is being sponsored by Harvard and M.I.T. They wouldn’t do anything to harm higher education!’ What came to my mind was some cautious financial analysts saying, about some of the financial instruments that were being rolled out in the late nineties or early two-thousands, ‘This is risky stuff, isn’t it?’ And being told, ‘Goldman Sachs is doing it; Lehman Brothers is doing it.’ ” Previously
Will online education dampen the college experience? Yes. Will it be worth it? Well... [more inside]
A MOOC on planning and running MOOCs run by a leading MOOC company has spectacularly collapsed [more inside]
The Learners Bill of Rights, a set of “Principles for Learning in the Digital Age,” is the outcome of a twelve-person meeting held in Palo Alto last week to explore the voice of the educated in online learning discussions:
As we begin to experiment with how novel technologies might change learning and teaching, powerful forces threaten to neuter or constrain technology, propping up outdated educational practices rather than unfolding transformative ones.[more inside]
All too often, during such wrenching transitions, the voice of the learner gets muffled.
For that reason, we feel compelled to articulate the opportunities for students in this brave electronic world, to assert their needs and--we dare say--rights.
We also recognize some broader hopes and aspirations for the best online learning. We include those principles as an integral addendum to the Bill of Rights below.
The State of Minnesota has informed Coursera that it cannot offer courses to Minnesota residents because it has not obtained permission to do so from the state. The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus blog reports on the story here. The State was acting pursuant to the "Minnesota Private and Out-of-State Public Postsecondary Education Act," which requires schools to register with the state if they offer courses in Minnesota and requires approval if degrees are granted or the words "college" or "university" are used in the name of a school. The law was enacted in 1975 and appears to have been intended to be a consumer protection law. Noted First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh has opined at his blog that the statute is unconstitutional, at least as applied to a web site that offers its courses for free and does not grant degrees.
Harvard and MIT today announced a new partnership for offering free online courses, called edX. [more inside]
Coursera - free, online, introductory- to upper-undergraduate level classes in a wide variety of subjects, led by instructors from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the University of Pennsylvania