Are we to blame for MOOCs?
Far from a radical innovation, MOOCs are simply the natural extension of trends that have been at the heart of the modern university for decades. Defenders of the status quo are reminiscent of Casablanca’s Captain Renault, who is “shocked, shocked” to discover an activity in which he himself partook. In April, the philosophy department at San Jose State University published an open letter bashing the use of Michael Sandel’s MOOC, “Justice.” Those professors compared the situation to “something out of a dystopian novel.” (“Departments across the country possess unique specializations and character, and should stay that way,” they wrote.) Such rhetoric notwithstanding, faculties have been deeply invested in the logic leading to the rise of MOOCs, and are fundamentally ill-prepared to mount a serious intellectual argument against them.