Five Myths about MOOCs

MOOCs face a storm of opposition that underestimates their challenge to traditional education. Given their popularity, why are there so many myths about MOOCs floating around? Debunking the myths about MOOCs leaves us free to challenge our assumptions — and our imaginative possibilities — by questioning the seeming inevitability of educational orthodoxy.

article artwork

James G. Mazoué is director of online programs at Wayne State University.

The Great Backlash against massive open online courses, better known as MOOCs, is in full swing. After an initial flurry of positive press, a firestorm of opposition has mobilized against them. MOOCs, we are told, are either a juggernaut threatening to bulldoze education's core values or an overly hyped bubble about to burst. To their critics, they represent the worst that can happen when higher education is hijacked by unscrupulous politicians and co-opted by crass commercial opportunism. In their open letter to Harvard professor Michael Sandel, members of the San Jose State University philosophy department expressed a sentiment no doubt shared by many: MOOCs compromise the "essential components of a good quality education."1

Among the widely debated list of transgressions, MOOCs:

  • Fail to engage students in effective pedagogical practices
  • Deny students mentoring experiences with scholars passionate about their research
  • Lack the rigor of an on-campus curriculum
  • Provide, at best, superficial and narrowly defined training rather than deep understanding
  • Are an attempt to replace faculty

While their supporters see them as a democratizing influence, MOOC detractors view them as instruments of social injustice and economic exploitation. Because, critics claim, MOOCs are inferior to classroom instruction, those who promote them as substitutes for a conventional on-campus education seek to deprive students who are unable or unwilling to pay for the amenities of a full-service education equitable access to academic opportunity.

Although many myths about MOOCs are circulating, I will focus on five of the most often repeated criticisms of MOOCs, and online education generally, and show why they are without foundation and should be rejected.

If MOOCs are so bad, why are they so popular? The first myth purports to explain why.

Myth #1: It's All about Money

The underlying motivation behind MOOCs is not educational innovation but corporate profiteering. The push toward MOOCs is part of a cost-cutting agenda to privatize public higher education and commoditize it into a profit-making scheme. MOOCs are the leading edge of the Wal-Martification of higher education.

The "commoditization myth" is perhaps the most widely accepted yet least supported by the evidence. Those who subscribe to it believe that the underlying motivation behind MOOCs is a mercenary push to commercialize academe. Covert manipulation by the invisible hand of moneyed interests is an easily digestible narrative that intuitively fits a wider societal pattern of predatory political and economic practices. It has a prima facie plausibility that appeals to some who imagine a corporate conspiracy lurking behind every educational application of technology. The facts, however, belie the allegation.

Even if we were to assume that MOOC providers have figured out the business models that will monetize them — and they have not — there is another explanation for their popularity. Apart from the fact that they offer access to intellectual capital on an unprecedented scale, some see MOOCs as having the potential to evolve into learning environments that will improve the quality and lower the cost of education. Critics summarily dismiss this possibility because they think it inconceivable that technology-enabled forms of learning can equal the quality of classroom instruction. The evidence, however, points to the contrary conclusion that MOOCs, if properly designed, can serve as even more effective enablers of individualized learning.

What the critics fail to understand is that the real threat to the status quo is not some vague conspiracy-fueled notion of the "corporatization of the academy" but the transformation of learning into a more scientifically grounded process that benefits learners. As learning-optimized courseware emerge offering quality, competency-enabling curricula online, students will migrate toward them as less costly and more efficient pathways to credentials. Hucksters who cut corners and attempt to fob off inferior learning on students will fail in competition against well-designed curricula that use a variety of strategies, both technological and human, to maximize learning effectiveness. Value-conscious students will understand that access to free or low-cost educational options is good, and access to free or low-cost educational options that are good is even better. Fears about a corporate takeover of education are therefore unfounded if two conditions are satisfied:

  1. People are able to make uncoerced and informed decisions about their interests.
  2. People have access to nonprofit, learning-optimized MOOCs.

Although it would be naïve to deny that some MOOC boosters are motivated solely by financial considerations, others are not; their motivation is to find a financially sustainable model for supporting pedagogical innovation. Those who espouse the commoditization myth err in thinking that a desire to maximize profit is the only rationale for MOOCs.2 They ignore the historical commitment that nonprofit universities, educational organizations, philanthropic foundations, and government agencies have made in applying the learning sciences to education in an effort to improve its quality; recent examples include the Community College Open Learning Initiative, Next Generation Learning Challenge Grants, and the APLU/OLI Multi-institutional Cognitive Coursewares Design initiative.

Although for-profit businesses — including Knewton, PLATO, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson — are also serious players in the development of next-generation digital learning environments, the not-for-profit sector has an established advantage in the forefront of developing early prototypes of enhanced learning. If a concerted effort to pool public resources were to materialize at a national, state-wide, or system-wide level, commercial vendors would find it difficult to compete against a large-scale, publically subsidized research infrastructure for developing MOOCs as learning-enabling environments. If, however, commercial interests seize the opportunity to offer services not provided by the not-for-profit sector, the latter will have no one to blame but itself for ceding the high ground it currently occupies.

Myth #2: MOOCs Create a Two-Tier Educational System

The end result of MOOC-based education will be a segregated educational system: A "real" education for the wealthy few who can afford a traditional education, and bargain-basement vocational training for the vast majority of those able to afford only online options.

MOOCs, critics contend, take us down a slippery slope culminating in the McDonaldization of higher education — plying naïve and vulnerable students with a convenient junk-food version of an "education" that will only widen the gap between the academic haves and have-nots. Dumbing down the workforce in this way, the argument goes, further serves the goal of commoditization by creating a steady stream of compliant consumption and cheap labor for the neocapitalist overlords who benefit from imposing an exploitive double standard. Many graduate students and contingent faculty might find this narrative somewhat disingenuous, however, given their ability to identify already with the proposition that "the edifice of higher education is increasingly being maintained on the backs of an academic underclass."3 The commoditization of education and exploitation of faculty and students is not a reproach against which colleges have immunity.

The stratification myth is based on two fallacies:

  1. Postsecondary education currently is an egalitarian system.
  2. Technology-enabled forms of learning are necessarily inferior to a campus-based education.

The prediction of an unequal two-tier system of education is ironic given that we have a two-tiered system of higher education now.4 Not only is inequality well documented, but it is sustained by institutional practices that perpetuate an ever-widening capabilities gap.5 To argue that financially strapped students would be better served without free or low-cost options for earning credentials is curious given that, for those who are priced out of the educational marketplace, the only alternative to a conventional campus-based education is very likely no education at all.

The stratification myth therefore presents a false alternative: a choice between the value of an unobtainable education versus an education not worth obtaining. Better no education at all, apparently, than one of dubious value. Those who decry MOOCs as an instrument of elitist oppression do not see the irony of endorsing a system that provides only as much access to an education as one has the ability to afford.

Although some find a traditional college education an unproblematic investment, the American public in general is conflicted: although a college education is valued, it is not considered a good value. According to a 2011 Pew Research Center study, 57 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. higher education system fails to provide students with good value for their money, and 75 percent regard college as unaffordable. Among adults ages 18–34, the main reason cited for not attending college is financial. A college degree is still valued, but prospective students are increasingly reluctant to mortgage their future to obtain one. Data on retention,6 graduation rates,7 and academic outcomes8 do little to mute the skepticism and hardly lend credence to the argument that a traditional college education is of incomparable value.

Critics might be right after all about MOOCs contributing to a two-tier system of education: they may offer us a choice between one option that is overpriced and of dubious value and another that provides improved access to learning at an affordable cost.

Myth #3: MOOCs Are Inherently Inferior

Genuine learning depends on personalization, and classroom instruction uniquely personalizes learning in ways that technology-mediated learning cannot. MOOCs are therefore inferior because they lack a critical factor in real learning: interpersonal exchange.

The third myth is the basis for claiming that MOOCs are of lesser value than traditional pedagogy. That is, the move toward MOOCs will produce a segregated, two-tiered system of educational inequality because MOOCs are inherently inferior to classroom instruction. They are low-quality knockoffs of the genuine article that are not only cheaper, but that cheapen the learning experience.

The charge that MOOCs are not just de facto inferior but are inherently so is an unquestioned article of faith. Some conclude that MOOCs are inferior to face-to-face instruction because they believe MOOCs possess a property that renders them ineffective. The property typically cited is simply the fact that they are online. This is like claiming that there is some unique property that all home-delivered pizzas have in common that makes them inferior to restaurant-served pizzas. A closer analysis of reported performance deficits in online courses might reveal that the real cause is poor instructional design, a correctable condition not unique to online classes.9 Others claim that MOOCs are deficient because of inherent limitations in their capacity to support good pedagogical practices:

  • Joseph Harris, a writing professor at Duke: "I don't see how a MOOC can be much more than a digitized textbook."10
  • Larry Cuban: "Online delivery of instruction is neither the same as pedagogy nor identical to student learning."11

Central to the claim that MOOCs are pedagogically inferior is the belief that real learning requires being in the presence of real teachers. A dependence on teachers for instruction is, as Cuban contends, the "default pedagogy in higher education."12 The presumption that teaching and learning are best achieved when people are physically present in the same location remains the norm — and bias — of current educational practice. Technology-mediated learning, we are told, is inferior because it lacks the pedagogical advantages of small, face-to-face classes: Socratic dialogue, immediacy, spontaneity, interaction — in short, the human element. Because they think that the effectiveness of personalized learning is inversely proportional to class size, critics conclude that MOOCs are fatally flawed.

What the critics get right is that most MOOCs currently do not provide the instructional guidance that many learners need. More than a half century of research demonstrates both the need for and efficacy of instructional guidance, especially for novice learners who benefit from the assistance of experts in cognitively processing new information.13 When encountering novel or ill-defined learning situations, students benefit from guidance on how to identify relevant information and integrate it into a meaningful and coherent understanding. In this respect, the instructional quality of MOOCs that depend exclusively on unaided discovery and crowdsourced feedback is not equivalent to a well-designed face-to-face course taught by a knowledgeable teacher. The critics are right, then, in pointing out that most MOOCs do not provide the same opportunities for instructional guidance that face-to-face courses offer.

Where the critics go wrong is to conclude that this constitutes an unequivocal endorsement of classroom instruction as the optimal form of learning. Having a teacher in a classroom would play a decisive role in your learning if you were the only student in the classroom.14 Benjamin Bloom's research debunks the notion that one-to-many group instruction is anything more than minimally effective, let alone pedagogically optimal.15 We know enough about how people learn to know that grouping students into classroom-sized cohorts is not, for most instructional purposes, the optimal learning unit. In comparison to tutoring, classroom-based group instruction is ill-suited for collecting actionable data about the state of each student's understanding and using it to guide student learning. As Ross Strader and Candace Thille point out, five well-researched limitations of traditional classroom instruction negatively impact the quality of student learning:

  1. Many instructors teach to only a certain percentile of the class.
  2. Students do not receive the immediate feedback they need in order to learn.
  3. Students' knowledge states are a black box to the instructor.
  4. Seat time is favored over the demonstration of competency.
  5. The process of creating instruction is inefficient.16

The point is not that students do not learn in classrooms. Rather it is that, in general, they do not learn as effectively. Classrooms are not as well suited as digitally enhanced tutoring environments for applying the conditions that optimize learning. Educational research shows that the factors that explain why tutoring and mastery learning improve comprehension are also operative in digital learning environments.17 The same conditions — what the learner does in response to scaffolding and the feedback-corrective process — that explain human tutors' effectiveness also explain how intelligent tutoring systems help learners construct a more complete and accurate understanding of a knowledge domain: They help learners monitor and repair flaws in their thinking; identify and self-correct errors; provide supportive feedback; debug misconceptions; and, through a process of "cooperative execution," help them construct a reflective understanding of the target material.18 That MOOCs — after all of two years — have not yet fully achieved perfection in implementing these learning-enabling conditions should not be taken as grounds for claiming that they cannot or will not.

The notion that people learn best only when tutored by other people is also not supported by the facts. "Personal interaction" is the catch-all phrase often cited by MOOC critics as a decisive reason for preferring an on-campus experience to an online education. Personalized learning and personal interaction are not, however, the same. Interaction with persons might lead to personalized learning, but it need not. What is effective about human tutoring is not that it is human, but rather that it provides scaffolding opportunities for the learner's constructive knowledge-building.19 What the research shows is that "In principle, a computer tutor that elicits 100 percent constructive student behavior could be just as effective as a human tutor that elicits 100 percent interactive student behavior."20 Depending on people to personalize learning might continue to serve us well as a practical expedient, but it is not a pedagogical necessity. The personalized coaching that is crucial to effective learning is not unique to face-to-face interaction.

Unlike earlier naïve applications of technology to education, which lacked an understanding of the learning sciences, MOOCs are not wedded to a broadcast model of knowledge transmission. They have the capability to embed natural language processing into micro-architectures built around intelligent tutoring and adaptive learning systems. The major MOOC providers have already begun moving in this direction by mining instructional interaction data in an effort to improve the effectiveness of research-based redesigns.

Although intelligent tutoring systems might not fit the idealized image of an inspirational teacher like the fictional Mr. Chips, they can skillfully guide students through a personalized learning process. In South Korea, for example, researchers are already seeing learning gains of between 0.86 and 0.9 among students who interact with robots to improve their language skills.21 In future online learning optimizations, students might routinely interact with intelligent knowledge navigators — educational versions of Apple's Siri — that have interactive mentoring capabilities sufficient to provide learners with personalized guidance. For those who prefer something closer to a campus learning experience's interpersonal immediacy, the MOOC startup NovoEd offers a "connected, engaged and collaborative learning experience" to participants through group work and peer-to-peer collaboration.

Myth #4: MOOCs Are Mechanistic

Pedagogical improvisation is an educational virtue. An eclectic "Baskin Robbins" approach to curriculum design and teaching is necessary to preserve the diversity and vitality of intellectual creativity. Using MOOCs as a replacement for the individually handcrafted model of instruction that defines how the academy creates and transmits knowledge threatens education's core values by reducing instruction to a mechanistic information-delivery process.

The fourth myth supports the third. MOOCs are inferior because their massive scale requires that they take a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. Because MOOCs are standardized instead of handcrafted, they are monolithic and impersonal, and gloss over the complexity and local diversity of human thought and creativity.

If educational standardization refers to the batch-processing of learning, then much of what we would call industrialized instruction occurs in classrooms. Largely through an institutionally imposed process of lock-step instruction, learning has become massively standardized in service to the credit hour.22Instead of customizing learning to each student, classroom teaching typically batch-casts instruction; tailoring in-depth instruction to each individual learner is simply not feasible. As others have noted, it would be difficult to design an education system that is more at odds with what we know about human learning.23 The charge of industrialization is therefore ironic given that it is the institutionalization of monolithic instructional practices by colleges that has created the industrial model of standardized education that MOOC critics denounce.

Right-sizing learning means making it maximally effective for each learner. Critics mistakenly assume that the microarchitecture of MOOCs cannot massively customize learning. Through the application of the learning sciences, however, we are finding that the same conditions — feedback and scaffolding — that explain face-to-face mentoring's effectiveness are also operative in step-based tutoring systems.24 Rather than dispense a prepackaged vending machine version of an education, learning-optimized MOOCs, if properly designed, will do just the opposite of what their critics allege: they will improve the effectiveness of learning by individualizing it.

Some resist the formalization of learning because they think it can only lead to a rigid set of learning outcomes. A concern about the homogenization of the curriculum — what students learn — is different, however, from our use of the learning sciences to improve how students learn. The effectiveness of learning should be benchmarked against evidence-based practices, not by endless variation in the way a curriculum is designed and taught.25 Concerns about curricular regimentation and the need to expose students to diverse perspectives can be accommodated without pedagogical improvisation. Would we think it a virtue of our health care system, for example, if it lacked evidence-based standards of practice and patients were forced to select from a plethora of homespun "remedies" with unproven effectiveness? Institutionalizing an artisanal, go-it-alone approach to instructional design and teaching guarantees that the quality of student learning will continue to vary widely.

Myth #5: We've Seen How This Plays Out

MOOCs are but the latest in a long succession of failed techno-fads. As with previously exaggerated claims about technology as a panacea, inflated expectations will soon be followed by disillusionment. The sizzle will fizzle.

We've heard it all before: Overblown prophesies predicting the end of education as we know it. The irrational exuberance surrounding MOOCs is no different from that of previously hyped "revolutionary advances" in technology — including the phonograph, radio, films, television, and the VCR — that were touted as momentous breakthroughs that would forever improve the quality of education.

What sets MOOCs apart from earlier attempts to adapt technological innovation to education is their potential for enabling individualized learning. Previous applications of technology to education were simply different ways of packaging information. Modeling conventional classroom practice, their focus was on the presentation and delivery of content, not a fundamental redesign of the process of learning. This criticism also applies to many current MOOCs modeled on LMS platforms that simply push content without effectively engaging students in a process of reflective knowledge building. The difference this time is that MOOCs are well suited for implementing a science-based model of education — one that places less importance on where or from whom one receives instruction than on how the learning process is designed. Once we figure out how to use MOOCs — or their progeny — to individualize learning, their virtually unlimited scalability will follow.

In their rush to judgment, the MOOC scolds selectively ignore a favorable comparison to other notable industry-transforming innovations that did not conform to the Hype Cycle: the Internet, Google, Amazon, Facebook, iPhone, iTunes, and Netflix, as well as the automobile, big-box retail stores, self-service gas stations, and the stethoscope, to mention just a few of the disruptors that were once lampooned but are now a part of the fabric of everyday life. Those who confidently assume that the future will be like the past would do well to learn from the example of a chastened Cliff Stoll, who, in the face of countervailing evidence, recanted his dismissive 1995 Newsweek piece, The Internet? Bah! 26 "Now," he wrote in 2010, "whenever I think I know what's happening, I temper my thoughts: Might be wrong, Cliff. . . ."27

The fact of the matter is, we have not seen before how this will play out. So, what's different this time?

Four converging trends:

  • Advances in the learning sciences and their application to educational practice.
  • A shift from seat-time to competency-based assessment models.
  • New business models that unbundle knowledge acquisition from credentialing.
  • A global economy incompatible with the continuation of business as usual.

Those who cavalierly dismiss MOOCs as just another fad need to recognize that their significance consists not in their present state but in what they have the potential to become: an evolving model that combines the learning sciences with competency-based assessment. Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative is an example of the first, and Western Governors University is an example of the second. The two models these examples represent have yet to converge. If they were to merge into a unified model, they could serve as a catalyst for creating — not the "MOOCpocalypse" — but a hybrid at the nexus of learning optimization and competency-based credentialing that offers more open, scalable, affordable, and improved forms of learning. Even at this nascent stage of their development, what we are witnessing in MOOCs is not a race to the bottom but rather a progressive upward movement toward operationalizing an infrastructure for learning optimization. Why, then, do the MOOC deniers wish to thwart their incubation and seek their demise?

A Tale of Two Agendas

The debate surrounding MOOCs is actually a battleground over competing agendas. The critics are right about the consequences that a shift to a MOOC-based educational model would likely have on current practices — but they are wrong about their causes. Myths about MOOCs direct our attention away from the true cause of their critics' disaffection; their disdain for MOOCs is not about MOOCs at all. Rather, it is a rejection of the educational model that MOOCs represent:

  • Greater reliance on a science of learning instead of individually crafted instruction
  • A shift from place to process
  • Decoupling output validation from input production
  • A redefinition of the role of faculty
  • A shift in power from institutions to students

Those in the anti-MOOC camp who are opposed to this model should provide well-reasoned arguments based on educational research, not more rhetoric about the imagined dangers of MOOCs as agents of educational imperialism. Mischaracterizing MOOCs as pawns in the service of a neoliberal political agenda28 distorts the legitimacy of the challenge that MOOCs pose to conventional practices and misrepresents their potential as catalysts of pedagogical innovation. By deflecting attention away from a serious discussion of their own agenda's merits, those who frame MOOCs in terms of socioeconomic class warfare are not serving their own cause well. Neither smug self-confidence nor playing the victim card will stave off a research agenda that is hot on the trail of understanding the conditions that more effectively enable learning.

Because the traditionalist agenda is deeply engrained in current institutional practice, there is a tendency to assume that it is not only pedagogically superior but also indispensable. Myths about MOOCs give reassuring explanations that sustain the pretension that the status quo is a foreordained inevitability. As John Tagg points out, however, we need to question occasionally the soundness of our assumptions as a corrective against what he calls the "status quo bias" — an unwarranted confidence in the correctness of our beliefs.29 MOOCs challenge our assumptions — and our imaginative possibilities — by questioning the seeming inevitability of educational orthodoxy. Are we certain that there is no pedagogical problem in the way we currently educate that future iterations of MOOCs cannot solve? Time will tell whether MOOC bashers are justified in their righteous indignation or are simply apologists for legacy practices grasping at rationalizations to mask their hubris.

  1. Philosophy Department, San Jose State University, "An Open Letter to Professor Michael Sandel from the Philosophy Department at San Jose State U," Chronicle of Higher Education, May 2, 2013.
  2. College administrators are often portrayed as being complicit in promoting MOOCs to advance a cost-cutting, profit-maximizing agenda. Data from several recent surveys, however, do not support the stereotype. In their most recent survey, the Babson Research Group reports that the majority of CAOs are highly skeptical of MOOCs; and in the recently published 2013 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology conducted by Gallup, the attitudes of technology administrators toward MOOCs largely mirror those of faculty (see pages 20-23).
  3. Dan Berrett, "Underpaid and Restless: Study Presents a 'Dismal Picture' of Life as Part-Time Professor," Chronicle of Higher Education, June 20, 2012.
  4. Jeffrey J. Selingo, College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, New Harvest, 2013, p. XV.
  5. Richard Arum, Esther Cho, Jeannie Kim, and Josipa Roksa, "Documenting Uncertain Times: Post-graduate Transitions of the Academically Adrift Cohort," Social Science Research Council, 2012.
  6. Alexandria W. Radford, Lutz Berkner, Sara C. Wheeless, and Tracy Hunt-White, Persistence and Attainment of 2003–04 Beginning Postsecondary Students: After 6 Years (NCES 2011-151), National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, December 2010.
  7. Susan Aud, William Hussar, Frank Johnson, Grace Kena, Erin Roth, Eileen Manning, Xiaolei Wang, Jijun Zhang, Liz Notter, Thomas Nachazel, and Carolyn Yohn, The Condition of Education 2012, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES 2012-045), U.S. Department of Education, 2012; Laura G. Knapp, Janice E. Kelly-Reid, and Scott A. Ginder, Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2010; Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2010; and Graduation Rates, Selected Cohorts, 2002 - 2007, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES 2012-280), U.S. Department of Education, March 2012.
  8. Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, University of Chicago Press, 2011.
  9. Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars, Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas, CCRC Working Paper No. 54, Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, February 2013.
  10. Joseph Harris, "Teaching 'By Hand' in a Digital Age," Chronicle of Higher Education, March 11, 2013.
  11. Larry Cuban, "MOOCs and Pedagogy: Part 2,"  Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice, February 13, 2013.
  12. Cuban, ibid.
  13. Richard E. Mayer, "Should There Be a Three-Strikes Rule Against Pure Discovery Learning? The Case for Guided Methods of Instruction," American Psychologist, vol. 59, no. 1, 2004; Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller, and Richard E. Clark, "Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching," Educational Psychologist, vol. 41, no. 2, 2006; Louis Alfieri, Patricia J. Brooks, Naomi J. Aldrich, and Harriet R. Tenenbaum, "Does Discovery-Based Instruction Enhance Learning?," Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 103, no. 1, February 2011.
  14. Following Bloom's original research, tutoring might also be effective with two or three students per tutor.
  15. Benjamin Bloom, "Learning for Mastery," Evaluation Comment, vol. 1, no. 2, 1968; Benjamin Bloom, "The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring," Educational Researcher, vol. 13, no. 6, 1984.
  16. Ross Strader and Candace Thille, "The Open Learning Initiative: Enacting Instruction Online," in Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies, Diana G. Oblinger, ed., EDUCAUSE, 2012, pp. 202–203.
  17. Kurt VanLehn, "The Relative Effectiveness of Human Tutoring, Intelligent Tutoring Systems, and Other Tutoring Systems," Educational Psychologist, vol. 46, no. 4, 2011.
  18. Michelene Chi, Stephanie Siler, Heisawn Jeong, Takashi Yamauchi, and Robert Hausmann, "Learning from Human Tutoring," Cognitive Science, vol. 25, 2001, p. 490.
  19. Rod Roscoe and Michelene Chi, "Understanding Tutor Learning: Knowledge-Building and Knowledge-Telling in Peer Tutors' Explanations and Questions," Review of Educational Research vol. 20, no. 10, 2007; William B. Wood and Kimberly D. Tanner, "The Role of the Lecturer as Tutor: Doing What Effective Tutors Do in a Large Lecture Class," CBE—Life Sciences Education, vol. 11, Spring 2012.
  20. VanLehn, "The Relative Effectiveness of Human Tutoring," p. 201.
  21. Darrell M. West and Joshua Bleiberg, "Education Technology Success Stories," Center for Technology at Brookings, Brookings Institution, March 2013.
  22. Amy Laitinen, "Cracking the Credit Hour," New America Foundation, September 5, 2012.
  23. Diane Halpern and Milton Hakel, "Applying the Science of Learning to the University and Beyond," Change, July-August, 2003.
  24. VanLehn, "The Relative Effectiveness of Human Tutoring," p. 204.
  25. Strader and Thille, "The Open Learning Initiative," pp. 210-211.
  26. Clifford Stoll, "The Internet? Bah!," Newsweek, February 26, 1995.
  27. Clifford Stoll, Comment on Maggie Koerth-Baker's "Curmudgeonly Essay on 'Why the Internet Will Fail' from 1995," Boing, Boing, February 26, 2010.
  28. Geoff Shullenberger, "The MOOC Revolution: A Sketchy Deal for Higher Education," Dissent: A Quarterly of Politics and Culture, February 12, 2013.
  29. John Tagg, "Why Does the Faculty Resist Change?," Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, vol. 44, no. 1, 2012, p. 10.