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Education Your Rights Online

How MOOC Faculty Exploit People's Desire To Learn 115

Posted by timothy
from the not-exactly-the-stanford-prison-experiment dept.
RichDiesal writes "Just as businesses try to make something off of massively online open courses (MOOCs), so do the faculty running them. But instead of seeking money, MOOC faculty seek something far more valuable: a cheap source of data for social science research. Unfortunately, the rights of research participants are sometimes ignored in MOOCs, and successful completion of courses are sometimes held hostage in exchange for mandatory participation in research, as in this case study of a Coursera MOOC. Such behavior is not tolerated in "real" college courses, so why is it tolerated in MOOCs taught by the same faculty?"
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How MOOC Faculty Exploit People's Desire To Learn

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:19PM (#45449967)

    If it was a real experiment, they'd have to have an ethics review and all the details of the research would have to be disclosed to the participants. Since this is not happening, any data derived from the MOOC "research" is not ethically sound, probably completely invalid from a social science perspective, and should probably get Coursera in trouble with certain academic circles.

  • simple answer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by binarstu (720435) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @05:57PM (#45450473)

    From the original post: "Such behavior is not tolerated in "real" college courses, so why is it tolerated in MOOCs taught by the same faculty?"

    TFA answers the question quite nicely: "Despite a couple of years of discussion, the question of monetization remains largely unresolved. MOOCs are about as popular as they were, they still drain resources from the companies hosting them, and they still don’t provide much to those hosts in return." Good or bad, it's an attempt to try to get something useful in return for the effort it takes to create a MOOC course. It's as simple as that, and there's no reason to read anything more sinister into it.

    And let's not hyperbolically describe this as "holding the users hostage," okay? Users are free to leave the course whenever they want -- hostage situations don't usually work that way.

  • by thepainguy (1436453) <thepainguy@gmail.com> on Sunday November 17, 2013 @06:39PM (#45450677) Homepage
    "...successful completion of courses are sometimes held hostage in exchange for mandatory participation in research, as in this case study of a Coursera MOOC. Such behavior is not tolerated in 'real' college courses..."

    Signing up for one or more experiments was a requirement of every undergrad psych class I took.

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