Mocking the MOOCs
MOOC is one of the new terms that occupy many higher learning institutions these days. Rectors, Presidents or Vice-Chancellors, leaders of higher education in general, are all of a sudden all set for the target: we also want to provide courses for the “MOOC”. The conservative Norwegian newspaper “Aftenposten” claimed recently that the MOOCs will revolutionize higher education, and will alter “the ways we learn” in fundamental ways. The Norwegian Ministry of Education has established an expert group to monitor the development of MOOCs and the consequences for national higher education systems. The reactions sway between exhilaration and “moral panic”. Many positive reactions reflect what Thomas Alva Edison hoped for a century ago, by predicting that learning was now liberated from the institutions and offered entirely via film and radio. The moral panic is a sentiment held by those who think that higher education institutions also have an obligation to maintain national cultures of science and humanities. Leaving teaching to MIT, Open University or whoever wants to claim the turf of teaching a topic, is a challenge to the established higher education policies. The global market of science, communication, publishing and library service is already vastly dominated by the English speaking academia.