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The Boston Globe


opinion | james mccarthy

All MOOCs are not the same

The technological revolution sweeping higher education at warp speed has been met with reactions that range from high praise to deep concern. Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and other intensive uses of technology in support of learning are being praised as vehicles that will improve the quality of higher education and expand its reach, while at the same time reducing costs. But they are also criticized as mechanisms that might consolidate knowledge transmission. One fear is that these courses concentrate the role of teaching in the hands of fewer players, often star professors at highly selective institutions who deliver their lectures online, inevitably reducing the variety of voices that are heard.

This technological revolution will affect all colleges, universities, and students, but in very different ways. Students in the nation’s highly selective colleges and universities most certainly will encounter advanced technology that is infused into the courses they take. Still, those courses will continue to be taught by full-time faculty at residential colleges and universities that provide students with the full college experience.

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