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The MOOC revolution that wasn’t

The MOOC revolution that wasn t


At what was arguably the peak of the hype about massive open online courses, the New York Times crowned 2012 as “The Year of the MOOC.” That was the year computer science professor Sebastian Thrun announced that, after an experiment teaching an online course that attracted 100,000 enrollees, he could no longer teach at Stanford; he was founding an online education startup, Udacity. That same year, his colleagues in the department, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, founded a competing MOOC startup, Coursera. Harvard and MIT also launched their own (nonprofit) MOOC initiative, edX. And universities around the world scrambled to partner with one or more of these organizations, amidst claims from investors, entrepreneurs, and pundits that MOOCs were poised to bring about the end of the university as we know it.

“In 50 years,” Thrun told Wired, “there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education and Udacity has a shot at being one of them.”

Three years later, Thrun and the other MOOC startup founders are now telling a different story. The latest tagline used by Thrun to describe his company: “Uber for Education.”

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I'm pretty sure the tagging Uber for Education does not do them justice.

Uber is an alternative to driving but MOOCs are not an alternative to learning.

I think nothing will ever replace learning with a human teacher in front of you.

Thinking MOOCs could replace universities is like thinking books could replace teachers, it never happened.

I registered for a free MOOC by ESA about climate change observation, but couldn't follow it because of the amount of work I had during the day. :/

Agreed about the human teacher in front of you.

Online learning is too easily distractable.

Plus, as you point out, ain't nobody got time for that. 

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