Online Locomotive

The drive to implement MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in higher education has become powerful.

An article by Rob Jenkins in the Chronicle of Higher Education is calling the pro-MOOC movement an “online locomotive.”

Jenkins, a professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College, explains that “proponents of online learning often use train metaphors to describe its growing impact on the educational landscape. Those of us who teach at two-year colleges, especially, are constantly encouraged, prodded, hectored, cajoled—and sometimes even ordered—to get on board. Otherwise, we’re told, we’re likely to be run over.”

He cautions: “As one who is skeptical regarding the long-term benefits of online learning, I would attest that the train metaphor is pretty apt. I sometimes feel as though I’m standing on the tracks, signaling ‘proceed with caution,’ while the online locomotive bears down on me, air horn reverberating.”

Jenkins concludes that “it’s so important for us as faculty members to realize who’s driving the online locomotive. It’s not students, only about a third of whom take any online classes. It’s not our colleagues, the vast majority of whom still aren’t fully on board with online learning in general, much less with MOOCs. And it’s certainly not employers, who over all seem to prefer that students take most of their coursework in traditional classrooms. It’s the administrators and the politicians, whose priorities—let’s be honest—are not the same as ours.”

The article is available online at the Chronicle of Higher Education website.

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