“What do you mean I have to pay for this MOOC?” – UBIAS Conference panel

In September 2013, the Peter Wall Institute hosted scholars from 14 countries around the world to participate in the University-Based Institutes for Advanced Study (UBIAS) Conference, held bi-annually by Institutes in the UBIAS network. This panel, entitled What do you mean I have to pay for this MOOC? Disruptive Innovation and Flexible Learning in Higher Education, discussed fundamental questions associated with massive open online courses (MOOC)s, the experiences of professors teaching MOOCs and some evolving trends.

The acceptance and monetization of MOOCs by elite universities is leading some academics to question the creative destruction of institutionally recognized face-to-face practices and distributed online learning. However, open education resources and open access never necessarily meant free, nor did they necessarily mean the pedagogical design would be innovative or beneficial. MOOC are disrupting business-as-usual at universities, but is the flexible distribution of learning clearing ground for a future that will challenge the very foundations of what it means to receive a university degree? If the story that we tell ourselves is changing about higher education (what it is, who it’s for, how it’s delivered, who delivers it) will this change lead to new stories, new pedagogy, and new spaces for greater access for diverse peoples to higher education? In this presentation I will articulate some of the educational, economic, cultural, social, political and technological dimensions of flexible learning in formal and informal virtual spaces.