MOOC controversy heats up in SDCCD

Lauren J. Mapp

Lauren J. Mapp, Editor-in-Chief

Free Massive Open Online Courses have been increasing in popularity, but a recent conflict has occurred within the San Diego Community College District over whether or not the district should create MOOCs in order to receive grant money to fund them.

“Within the [SDCCD], there has already been both interest in and controversy regarding MOOCs, especially under the conditions of a grant opportunity afforded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that would support the development of MOOCs for credit in the areas of general education and basic skills instruction,”

Chancellor Constance M. Carroll said in an email on Oct. 22.  She added that “the Board of Trustees has referred to me the task of reviewing this matter.”

During the Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 18, a group of professors from San Diego Mesa College, San Diego City College and San Diego Miramar College addressed the board to voice their concerns about MOOCs.

Some professors believe that while MOOCs may have benefits in providing free college classes to those who could not otherwise obtain such education, that the SDCCD’s involvement in such courses would do more damage than good.

“This is a move toward the teacher less classroom, ” said Jim Miller, a City College English professor.

Other concerns are that the way that faculty members interested in creating MOOCs and applying for grant money has circumvented SDCCD procedure.

“People are racing to take this moment because we are in bad shape,” Miller said, but he does not feel that they would improve the education that the SDCCD already provides.

Professor Jennifer Cost, Mesa College English Department Chair, voiced her concern during the meeting that faculty energy may be best spent on students enrolled in on-campus classes before engaging in free open courses for those outside the school system.

“How can we have an open, online, worldwide English 101 section with peer review when the students on campus need direction?” Cost asked during the meeting.

San Diego Community College Board of Trustees President Rich Grosch and SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll listen and respond to professors concerned about Massive Open Online Courses during the board of trustees meeting, Thursday Oct. 18, 2012 at San Diego Mesa College. Photo Credit: Lauren J. Mapp/Editor-in-Chief