Andrew Valls, OSU political science professor, added his voice to the national dialogue on hybrid courses as well as the role and impacts of MOOCs in higher education in Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad MOOC? posted online yesterday in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog. Prof. Valls teaches a hybrid version of PS 206 Introduction to Political Theory that makes use of online lectures from Harvard University’s Justice with Michael Sandel. An edX MOOC based on Sandel’s lectures was at the heart of the latest round of the MOOC debate last week, when faculty of the San Jose State University philosphy department announced their refusal to teach a blended course utilizing content from Sandel’s edX MOOC on their campus.
In contrast to the opinions expressed by the San Jose State philosophy faculty, Valls doesn’t believe that MOOCs are an inherent threat to quality public higher education. Instead, he finds that open educational resources such as Michael Sandel’s lectures can enhance teaching and learning, particularly in hybrid courses. In Valls’ opinion, “The availability of high-quality online lectures is an opportunity to rethink how we spend our time in the classroom. If an online lecture presents the material, or walks students through an argument, we are freed to spend more time discussing the aspects of the material that are most difficult—or most interesting. . . . Yes, hybrid courses usually involve less face-to-face time, but that time can be better and more effectively spent.”