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Adam Habib and Christine Woods: We Can’t Deny the Value of MOOCS and/or Online Education

Adam Habib, author of South Africa’s Suspended Revolution, which has been translated into three South African languages, has co-written an article with his colleague Christine Woods on online university education programmes, also known as massive open online courses (MOOCS).

South Africa's Suspended RevolutionRewolusie op ysInguqukombuso YeNingizimu Afrika Eyabondwa YashiywaNtwa ya Boitseko e Fanyehuweng ya Afrika Borwa

Habib and Woods write: “Online university education programmes, and massive open online courses – MOOCs – in particular, may be considered disruptive technological developments with the potential to be useful in the struggle to address the challenges of higher education in the 21st century. But this will only be realised if we avoid the twin evils of cynicism and evangelism.

“The former disables us from thinking imaginatively about educational pedagogies and new modes of education delivery. The latter allows us to be blinded by the challenges of our unequal world and the difficulties associated with the new innovation itself.”

Discouraging this approach, Habib and Woods describe the 21st century educational challenges and propose a response to MOOCS:

The response to these challenges is not to deny the value of MOOCs and-or online education.

Rather, we should think through how to mobilise these technological developments, through a non-profit entity, to enable collaborative education between universities in different parts of the world.

In this model MOOCs could be used as a supplement to existing face-to-face educational experiences, rather than a replacement of them (as is suggested in the notion of democratising education).

In addition, there is an opportunity to gain insights into how students engage (or not) with MOOCs and their online peers in transnational contexts, drawing on scholarly research generated from this kind of educational experience that will lead to greater insights into both face-to-face and online learning.

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