MOOCs vs. Research

mathbabe is concerned that MOOCs will eliminate enough revenue from universities that research will suffer.  This is a legitimate concern, I think.  Just like any kind of automation or disruptive technology, there will be dislocations.

Having (poorly) taught one semester of statistics myself, I don’t think that removing professors, or even TAs, from this process, is going to be harmful to the research that they perform.  As she states, it is the reduced income that would be the problem.

We will just have to figure out ways to compensate.  MOOCs are not going away, and really, have the potential to be a huge improvement in education.  I suspect my students would have been better served by seeing videos of the very best teacher.  Maybe with a professor or TA available in person to answer questions?

Also, the learning may be done via MOOC, but that does not mean the credentials need to be given away for free.  i.e. if you want to graduate from University of Whatever, you have to pay full or at least some substantial tuition, and show up in person to take the finals.  So it doesn’t have to destroy the current system completely.   The only constant is change.

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