Starting August 29, MIT will be offering “Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness,” through its edX portal with a new twist. Students who pay $300 for the “verified certificate” program will have their work reviewed by “professional philosophers.” Without a “verified certificate,” the course is free.
“Listening to lectures and reading books is great, but philosophy is all about taking complex ideas and organizing them in a simple way. You learn by writing, specifically writing to someone,” said Caspar Hare, an MIT philosophy teacher who will lead the MOOC for its third iteration.
Some faculty wanted to expand Amherst’s repertoire and experiment online. Even professors who opposed a deal with edX say the college should look at doing more online. But the majority of faculty came to doubt edX on a number of fronts.
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Some Amherst faculty concerns about edX were specific to Amherst. For instance, faculty asked, are MOOCs, which enroll tens of thousands of students, compatible with Amherst’s mission to provide education in a “purposefully small residential community” and “through close colloquy?”
They also expressed broader concerns about the direction in which edX and others like it are taking higher education.
Inside Higher ED has a post by Steve Kolwich about the opening keynote at Educause. In his keynote, New York University’s Clay Shirky addressed the openness (or lack thereof) of MOOCs, which he considers the more provocative aspect of MOOCs than their size. The whole piece is focuses on the relationship between MOOCs, Open Educational Resources (OER), and the terms of service of some of the new commercial providers of MOOCs ( e.g., Udacity, edX, Coursera). The full article provides an interesting look at the whole issue.