Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I'm Enjoying The MOOC, But I'd Prefer A Book

Recently, I've been hearing a lot of chatter about MOOCs.  At first I thought people were talking about cows with speech impediments, but then someone explained that a MOOC is an acronym for a "massive open online course".  Since, supposedly, this phenomenon is going to destroy higher education as we know it but possibly save students money, I thought I'd investigate and signed up for a course called Think Again.  The course really isn't teaching me anything new, but it's been a fun experience thus far.  I watch videos as a professor explains concepts of logic and rhetoric and then I take quizzes to test whether I've been paying attention and learning the material.  However, I must confess that I don't see what all the fuss is about.  The professors (the course is co-taught) won't answer questions since a couple hundred thousand people are taking the course.

Yes, that's right.  The equivalent of the city of Akron, Ohio is taking the course.

So, we can forgive the professors for not holding office hours, as understandably they would like time to eat and sleep and stuff like that.

So basically, the course is like watching YouTube while filling out related crossword puzzles between videos.

I actually had a course like this in undergrad.  The communications professor was a control freak so he wouldn't let anyone else teach his courses when he went on sabbatical.  Since the university wanted to run the courses while he was gone, they worked out a deal, and the professor was taped giving his lectures.  So when I and my fellow students showed up for lecture, we watched a video of our professor giving the lecture.

I didn't like it much.  I much preferred live human professors.  The chief advantage of the video from the student perspective was that everyone, teaching assistants included, would occasionally make fun of the video aloud, making it a bit like a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  In fact, this experience served as the inspiration for one of Funnybear's moneymaking schemes in The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus.

Ultimately, humanity invented the equivalent of the MOOC centuries ago.

It's called a book.

If someone can't be there in person to explain something, then he or she can just write it down, and the reader can read it at her or his own pace.

Nevertheless, I'm enjoying my MOOC, and I think it's very cool of the professors to teach people around the world for free, but I don't think I'll sign up for another one.

I'd rather read a book.

If I want to watch a video, I'd rather it be something like this.


  1. Ha. I am signed up for this, for similar reasons as you--to see what all the fuss is about--but haven't had time to do anything with it yet. I am too busy reading blog posts like this and reading books and watching cat videos.

  2. You have your priorities in order!