Last week my Twitter feed briefly turned into a kind of massively open online course about MOOCs, in response to this thoughtful critique by Aaron Bady of an earlier post by Clay Shirky advancing an optimistic view of the role that free, open courses can play in reforming higher education. Bady begins his discussion of Shirky’s post by taking issue with one of the key analogies — that MOOCs are like Napster. He briefly points out that teaching is different from performing music in important ways, and moves quickly on to dissect the persuasive rhetorical devices in the Shirky piece.
But I was left contemplating what it would mean if MOOCs really were like Napster. “If that’s true,” I thought, “then the next generation of university faculty will be dependent on casual work and Kickstarter campaigns to support their scholarly work.”