Tech Mania Goes To College
Career College Central summary:
Massive open online courses mania hit hard and fast in the last decade, and hyperbole was the order of the day. Though the phrase itself was coined only in 2008, last year The New York Times proclaimed 2012 “the year of the MOOC,” and MIT Technology Review described MOOCs in a headline as “The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years.”
In February, Darrell Steinberg, president pro tem of the California State Senate, weighed in with a bill requiring colleges and universities to award credit for MOOCs in the fifty most overbooked introductory courses. “
In California, a bill introduced by the Senate’s most powerful figure is typically a cinch to become law, and with the governor on board, the state seemed poised to transform the landscape of higher education. But the politicians hadn’t reckoned with the anger of the academics.
With rare speed, University of California professors mobilized in opposition. Professors saw the measure as a triple threat: an unprecedented political encroachment, a challenge to academic standards, and a step toward privatizing higher education. Within forty-eight hours, the leaders of the system-wide faculty senate published a letter assailing the bill. Days later, the faculty of the massive California State University system joined the opposition chorus, as did the community college professors.
Steinberg later softened his bill to give professors outright approval of the courses, but the faculty weren’t appeased; and although the senator is regarded as a friend to labor, the faculty unions were also adamantly opposed. Confronted with such opposition, Steinberg surrendered. In June, a defanged version of the measure, which merely offers incentives to professors who design MOOCs, limped through the Senate and now languishes in the Assembly.
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