“Justice” for All? The State (Philosophy Dept.) vs. MOOCs

“Justice” for All? The State (Philosophy Dept.) vs. MOOCs

In a recent Aspire post (College at any Price?), we referenced Sophie Quinton’s NationalJournal.com article on San Jose State’s financially-motivated adoption of online education tools. But the story doesn’t end there; on the heels of that article came one in the New York Times, in which a contrasting viewpoint is expressed by members of the school’s faculty.
The focal point of the debate is an online course taught by Harvard’s Dr. Michael Sandel, called Justice, materials from which were made available to the San Jose State philosophy department as part of the school’s integration of online education. A response came in the form of an open letter from the San Jose State philosophy department to Dr. Sandel, which included the following critical observations:

The thought of the exact same social justice course being taught in various philosophy depts. across the country is downright scary,

The move to MOOCs comes at great peril to our university… We regard such courses as a serious compromise of quality of education and, ironically for a social justice course, a case of social injustice.
Professors who care about public education should not produce products that will replace professors, dismantle departments and provide a diminished education for student in public universities.

Do you see this as an over-reaction, or is there a valid case to be made against an “assembly-line” approach to online education? Share your thoughts below.

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