Al-Jazeera: Is the developing world MOOC’d out?

Hannah Gais offers insights on the shortcomings of MOOCs from the developing world’s perspective.  Chief among them, (1) lack of accessibility and (2) their anti-democratic nature.

On the one hand, the article notes that a large percentage of many MOOCs are from students in the developing world.  But, it clarifies, that access to MOOCs are still limited to people with broadband for video – still a difficulty in much of the world.

Additionally, MOOCs are criticized for being a high-tech sage-on-a-stage.  MOOCs present rather than engage, talk to rather than with, and elevate the already-elite schools rather than partner with the rest of the world.

MOOCs, some argue, are focused on only expanding access, not fostering cross-cultural understanding or improving local educational institutions.

“In an era when higher education is making significant advances in becoming global and helping to build educational capacity within developing nations, MOOC’s play the center against the periphery,” noted Jason Lane and Kevin Kinser in a 2012 paper. “They strengthen the ivory towers by enabling a few elite institutions to broadcast their star courses to the masses from the comfort of their protected perches.”

Progress in these includes new projects in China and Rwanda and elsewhere, the article notes, concluding with the now familiar caveat that MOOCs are still in the early stages of development with uncertain paths ahead.   Worth the read here: 


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