MOOCs may be great as OER artifacts but from a practical pedagogical perspective, they are definitely not courses/classes. Classes are not (or should not be) simply unidirectional lectures or broadcastings. Classes require interaction and the development of ideas. Students construct the class; the teacher is just the guide and helper. The job of the teacher is to implement techniques that motivate the students and help these students attain a specific learning outcome. This is why the teacher-student ratio is very important. We know that the imparting of information does not imply learning. Consequently, libraries are not a replacement for classrooms; we know this because we have had libraries for thousands of years and they complement (but do not replace) classrooms extremely well. The idea that information provided on the internet would be somehow different, was, from its inception, flawed. I am arguing from this perspective, focusing on the availability of information on the net as one of the pillars of MOOCs. There are additional problems due to the lack of retention or even interaction among students enrolled in MOOCs: http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/MOOCs-and-Open-Education.pdf (p.11)
This is not an economic issue, or an argument designed to support teachers’ unions. This has to do with the quality of education. And when we talk about the quality of our resources when we speak of something we supposedly value as much as we do education and the educational system, the economic aspect should be irrelevant, or, at the very least, not the essential motivator.
Anyone who is a teacher (we need to recuperate the original value and meaning of this word because not all professors are teachers) would know that MOOCs are closer to social media than to a classroom. The problem is that many of the famous professors who are “teaching” the MOOCs, or even those who are designing these MOOCs, are not teachers. We all know that many professors in very prestigious universities are not teachers. Many are, but they are not the majority. Let us be honest here, academia discriminates against true teachers as second class citizens. Lecturers teach the classes, professors do research and make 4 or 5 times the salary of part-time faculty. Academia instills this idea in its graduate students from day one. Classes in pedagogy are, in general, presented as completely irrelevant. They are often taught by lecturers that many graduate students do not respect because these lecturers, although they may be experts in their field, do not have the power to impose an appropriate curriculum. No one wants to talk about this, but it is a reality. When those graduate students become professors, they spend their entire career doing research, and are often disconnected from the reality of the classroom. This leads them to design theories that do not work in practice. When these theories are combined with the powerful incentives of the economic marketplace and the promise of great financial gain, there is no turning back. Academia, if it remains disconnected from the practical reality of the classroom, will perpetually shoot itself in the foot.