The blog of Academe Magazine. Opinions published here do not necessarily represent the policies of the AAUP.
The idea of shared governance proceeds from the notion that faculty are uniquely qualified to participate in the decision-making process with respect to academic matters. Since just about everything at a university affects academic matters, a healthy campus would solicit faculty input on just about everything. However, with respect to decisions about awarding credit, you’d think that the faculty would be the first folks who’d be consulted. You’d be wrong:
The clearest path to college credit for massive open online courses may soon be through credit recommendations from the American Council of Education (ACE), which announced today that it will work with Coursera to determine whether as many as 8-10 MOOCs should be worth credit. The council is also working on a similar arrangement with EdX, a MOOC-provider created by elite universities.
Now I admit I had to check, but ACE represents university presidents, not faculty. Now hopefully all of those university presidents might, in turn, consult faculty before implementing credit for MOOCs, but why not bring in faculty representation here at the preliminary stages? You know, like a certain association we all know about that starts with two “A”s and ends in “UP?”
If you find that disturbing, I find this piece of an article also from IHE even more so:
Like machine-guided teaching software, MOOCs occasionally have stoked anxiety among professors that the discovery of “efficiencies” might lead to faculty layoffs.
Martha Nell Smith, the chair of the university senate at College Park, the Maryland system’s flagship campus, said she and her colleagues have not been formally apprised of any research project that involves the deployment of MOOC-centric courses.
But Smith said she does not expect faculty resistance to be a barrier. The rank and file do have “mixed” feelings about certain technologies, including MOOCs, she said in an interview. “I think if anything the [experiment] has the potential to increase people’s appetites for higher education with walls,” said Smith.
I’d be disappointed if faculty weren’t a barrier to MOOCs because that’s what shared governance is all about. For-profit companies like Coursera have an obligation to their investors to make us much money as possible. Faculty have an obligation to their students to make sure that the courses Coursera runs maintain any institution’s academic integrity. Those ideas are supposed to clash. If they don’t, somebody isn’t doing their job.
Without real shared governance, the people not doing their job will be faculty everywhere.