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AFT On Campus
Winter 2013-14


MOOC Disrupters

MOOCs for the masses? Not so fast

Since massive open online courses burst on the scene two years ago, MOOCs have been heralded as a disruptive force for innovation in higher education that will magically solve the large policy challenges we face as a nation: How do we get more Americans to attend college and complete their studies? And how do we bring down the costs? 

In California, where the two leading MOOC-based startups, Udacity and Coursera, were launched in 2012, a powerful Democrat in the state Legislature jumped onto the bandwagon earlier this year, introducing SB 520. This was a bill that would have forced the state’s 145 public colleges and universities to accept lower-division course credits from low-cost online college alternatives. It passed in the state Senate, but was put on hold when an experiment at San Jose State University, where Udacity was hired to provide remedial math courses, revealed how poorly served at-risk students are by massive online learning. Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun now says he sees that his courses can be “a lousy product.”


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About AFT On Campus

AFT On Campus is the newspaper of AFT’s higher education division. It covers issues of interest to full-time and part-time faculty and academic staff at colleges and universities, as well as topics such as the academic staffing crisis, academic freedom, funding, federal legislation, and the advocacy and professional work of members. AFT On Campus is published five times a year and is mailed to all higher education members of the AFT as a benefit of membership. Single copies are free on request. Questions, comments and inquiries about AFT On Campus should be sent to its managing editor Barbara McKenna.  
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Also from this Issue:

Where We Stand

Technology is no substitute for faculty-student engagement.