This is a good liberal arts class. It’s very entertaining and thought provoking. I’m 10k not sure I’m going to walk away with anything of any real importance, but it is fun. The main problem I’m having here is with the scale. I’ve yet to connect with a small enough group of people to have any meaningful discussions. I’m on the Facebook and Google+ pages and off follow Twitter, but so far I really haven’t engaged much. This is somewhat ironic, because I am very engaged with a group from the Fundamentals of Online Learning course, which crashed very publicly, due in no small part from the instructor’s attempt to create those small groups.

Week 2 materials start to establish the connection between the class and e-learning. The Corning and Microsoft videos are fun. I thought Corning’s vision to be the more interesting and more realistic. The Microsoft video looked more like a combination of Windows 8 and fantasy. Neither offered any interesting uses for education, though I can imagine many possibilities particularly with the Corning products.

The two sci-fi videos were entertaining, but they didn’t inspire any original ideas. Sight reminds me a little of Total Recall and The Matrix. Charlie 13 is a variation on the theme in Logan’s Run, though not nearly as chilling.

The videos have little connection to education, though they clearly relate to the course topic. The Corning and Microsoft videos are utopian and Charlie 13, dystopian and Sight somewhere in between. Nothing in any of them changed my opinion that technology is essentially neutral, it’s how it is used that defines the good or evil.

The articles and Gardner Campbell’s keynote were more interesting to me and more clearly related to the question at hand, “Are MOOCs good or bad?” And the answer is the same, they’re neutral, it will depend how they are used. When they are used to provide access to education to those that otherwise wouldn’t have it, they are great. Who can 2002 argue with free access to the classes from the best schools in the world? Well, the other, “lesser” schools for starters. These courses have the potential to cherry pick the courses that are the most cost effective, those that support the other more expensive programs at these schools. Why sit in a lecture hall with 300 people at a regional university or junior college when one can get nearly the gallery same information from a professor at Craft an elite school.  I could easily see students staying home, watching the MOOC lectures and only showing up for the test or writing the paper at their real class. In many of these large lecture classes, there isn’t much more interaction between student and teacher than there is in an MOOC, so what’s the difference?

The argument about whether technology or any development is good or bad is a waste of time. It simply is and we have to deal with it. In that I agree with Clay Shirky. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. MOOCs, if successful, will likely change the model for higher education. Jobs will be lost or downgraded and it will be difficult for some to adapt. It will also result in education that’s a little homogenized for my taste, but I suspect there will be enough different schools competing that it won’t be 1984. And homogenized education is certainly better than none. Reaching under/unserved populations could end up being the real boon here. Of course there’s the question of access, but there’s no reason it has to be individual access. The Internet is everywhere to some extent. Why not cram 300 or even 1000 people into Guide one room to watch the lecture for an MOOC in a developing country? This is where MOOCs have the potential to do the most good.

So in the end, it is important to ensure that MOOCs are as effective as possible. They need to be studied with best practices identified and implemented. We recently had an example of what can go wrong with #FOEMOOC course. But what is wonderful about experiments is that even #FOEMOOC-Reload colossal failures provide an incredible amount of important information.