Innovation Confusion

Why do those who used to push forward now push back?

I know the answer to the question even as I ask it. Why do the same people who pushed so hard for so many years to drive innovation into the teaching and learning space now recoil at the arrival of it en masse? The answers I have rolling around in my head may be too simple to be real, but they are there speaking to me nearly all the time these days.

Just a couple of years ago we were all trying so hard to get people to accept the idea that open access to learning was a great thing. Hell, some of the best conversations I’ve ever had in this field have centered around the ideals of openness, but now that the MOOC thing has happened the same people who built rallying calls for more open access to learning are now rejecting this movement. Why? Because it is driven by corporations trying to make money? Because it isn’t really open? Because the press isn’t giving a few people the credit they believe they deserve? Because these aren’t really courses? Ok … that sounds like the same stuff we’ve always dealt with.

Yes, the way the current MOOC landscape is shaking out has little to do with real honest to goodness open access. MOOCs are still closed in that you have to take the time to actually enroll in a “course” and take it over a period of time. I guess the true open crowd would prefer that everything just live on the Internet within “open” spaces like youtube and blogs. The reality of that is that it didn’t work and won’t for quite some time.

If we want to move the needle on the conversation of openness, in terms of access, the MOOC movement is a real catalyst. I am sorry if the same people who dreamed of this moment aren’t happy with the way it is playing out … hell, it is amazing to me that it is playing out at this scale with these players at all — and by players I mean the universities, the staff, and the faculty.

I want all my ed tech friends to chill out. To enjoy the fact that this is progress. That this isn’t selling out. That this is a step in the right direction. That this has the attention of faculty, administrators, and boards of trustees. That without that attention, this moment wouldn’t be happening. That our job isn’t to bash the movement but to do what we have always done — move it in the right direction using positive energy.

That is the challenge that I am excited about being a part of.

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