I’m Still Confused as to Why Lecture Hall Classes Are Bad and xMOOCs Are Good?

To this day, you still read about people condemning the stereotypical “lecture hall” college classroom. Herd hundreds of students in a room, have a lecturer spew knowledge out on them for an hour, test, repeat – there is your class. This concept is labeled as “bad” because it just enforces the “sage on the stage” model with no interaction, no problem solving skills, no deeper learning, no life application, etc. And I would agree with the critics of this model that it is bad pedagogy.

But stick this exact same model online and get enough media hype about it and suddenly it is a good idea? I’m confused.

Sure, open learning is a great idea. And obviously I like online learning. But open online learning based on bad pedagogy is still just as bad as the lecture hall class that uses the same pedagogical model.

Of course, I have been labeled a Luddite just for questioning the almighty xMOOC… but I am glad to see others are starting to do the same. The hype cycle for xMOOCs is still following the same path that the cycles for Google Wave and Second Life followed.

“But it gives people that can’t afford college in developing countries a chance to get an education!”

So…. what is wrong for the rich kids at Universities is okay for the poor people of the world? Someone that pays a lot of money can complain about bad course design and being herded like cattle through a system – but people in India and inner city America should just be happy to get whatever crap we toss their way?

Look – I love new ideas and deconstructing the university as much as the next EduGeek. But we still have to recognize bad design when we see it and call it out. And I am glad that there are still scholars sounding alarms about where technology is taking us. I don’t always agree with the alarms they sound, but they raise good questions in an age when many of the public figureheads of “ed tech innovation” seem to be afraid to step out of the corporate line. It seems like you have to love it or hate it…. with discussion and disagreement all lumped into the “hate it” category. You can read the comments on pretty much any article on The Chronicle that questions anything coming out of the corporate sector to see that people don’t know how to respectfully disagree or even realize that sometimes it is good to question everything.

“Question everything.” Give me a minute to let out a sigh here and remember the good old days when that was considered the cool thing to do. Back in the days before EduPunk was stolen and most of the “innovators” in our circles sat by and let it happen, or worse, mocked Jim Groom for speaking up for the purity of his baby.

Dang, I am starting to sound like a hippie. Time to go ingest some red meat. Maybe then I will see the light of the xMOOC.

Or maybe someone can point me in the direction of a good xMOOC that doesn’t just replicate what happens in large lecture halls all over the world? Every time I sign up for one, I just have a sense of deja vu and start feeling a loud “Mooooo…..” coming on.

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