Monday, December 16, 2013

Response to "MOOCs as neocolonialism – Who controls knowledge?"

A colleague from INASP sent me a link to this article:

The author asks if students around the world are concerned about the American nature of MOOCs. He asks this because he is an academic whose field of research is education. Generally speaking, students are not like him: they don't get philosophical about education. They want to learn. They want skills, knowledge, jobs. And many students from the South want to go to the North.

MOOCs offer unprecedented opportunities for students in the South who want to make something of themselves and not be oppressed in a dull local education environment, which is unfortunately common (I'm speaking as an Indian). Telling them that MOOCs are not appropriate for them would be another kind of oppression. And anyway they won't listen!

I think the real issue is how universities in the South will respond to MOOCs. I don't think I've come across any positive or progressive responses such as integration of MOOCs in the curricula, providing local technological support for students to take MOOCs alongside classes, developing their own online courses inspired by MOOCs, etc.

I don't think MOOCs were created as part of a neocolonialist agenda. The author says as much near the end of his essay. But with essays such as this, I wonder if universities in the South are getting convinced, without good enough reason, that MOOCs are a form of neocolonialism and therefore consider them with apathy or scorn. I think this is already happening.