MOOCs and Mardi Gras

What is college for?  Can MOOCs transform a sclerotic system of higher education?

Conservative commentators have been split as to whether MOOCs are a blessing or a curse.  As we’ve noted here on ILYBYGTH, some conservative intellectuals have bemoaned the implications of free online education.  Others have celebrated MOOCs as the ultimate free-market corrective to ossified funding structures.

This morning Rod Dreher, the thinking man’s conservative, connected readers to an emotional description of college that squeezes MOOC-ery far out to the sidelines.

In an online dialogue about the many reasons to go to Louisiana State University, one writer gave a nostalgic endorsement.  Why go to LSU?  The writer describes a close personal mentorship with a philosophy professor, the rich history and tradition of campus life, friendships made for a lifetime.  And booze.

There are many aspects to “college” that are simply not contained in an online course.  For many people, college is not defined by academic achievement alone, nor by mastery of vocational skills.  College, as it was for our LSU fan, represents a jumble of intellectual growth, personal identity formation, social ferment, and human bonding.

Those things don’t seem challenged by any sort of MOOC revolution.


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