Between Kudzu and Killer Apps: Finding Human Ground Between the Monoculture of MOOCs and Online Mechanisms for Learning

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Although MOOCs have not lived up to previously breathless predictions of disruption, they have had an outsized influence on university administrators who see online learning as a “savior solution” for ever-shrinking budgets. Despite lower student persistent rates, faculty skepticism, and burdensome faculty workloads, the general public and administrative embrace of online learning has been enthusiastic, which may be explained in part using Foucault’s concept of the episteme to view the convergence of the parallel tracks of educational and technological development--the idea of a kind of mechanism for learning. While MOOCs once promised “best professors,” other institutions now promise the “best designed” mechanisms for learning, certified through corporatized quality assurance programs and learning management systems. While this may be appropriate for shopping educational products in a neoliberal marketplace, it seldom addresses human needs. Moreover, the temporal and human constraints that online promises to banish, in fact, continue to exist. Therefore, a more realistic examination of psychological and social factors, pedagogical tools, and the nature of online communication, is needed in order to create a more humane way of teaching, and learning.