Religion and the MOOCs

Religion and the MOOCs September 25, 2013

Scot McKnight blogged recently about “the MOOC delusion.” I think it is fair to say that anyone who thought that MOOCs would be the future of higher education had not thought about the matter with an adequate historical perspective. It has long been the case that academics have, in some form or other, given our perspectives away for free. It may not have been as easy for as many to benefit from this as is the case now. But our books have been in libraries, we’ve given free public lectures, and we’ve otherwise shared our knowledge with the general public. MOOCs which are not for credit are very similar, just on a larger scale. And having MOOCs be for credit, if it ever happened, would probably involve them no longer being free and involving more in the way of faculty or TA grading of work. It is online courses more generally that are the more revolutionary element, but there too it is a thrilling opportunity rather than a terrifying disruption. Students may be able to take courses while also working, or traveling, or engaging in practical long-term projects of research and civic engagement that were incompatible with education confined by space and time. It is an exciting time to be involved in education, for those of us who are aware that we have always used technology in teaching, and that new technology brings with it new and exciting possibilities. That it may soon be possible – or rather, easier – for students to not merely learn about world religions, but through more flexible scheduling as a result of online and hybrid courses, be able to visit local and perhaps even global communities and centers of worship, is amazing.

Of related interest, IO9 also recently asked what readers think the future of education looks like. And Coursera has a MOOC about Jerusalem!



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