Peer Learning and the Intellectual Commons
Edited By Markus Deimann and Michael A. Peters
Chapter Four: MOOCs, Neoliberalism and the Role of the University
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MOOCs, Neoliberalism AND THE Role OF THE University
The massive open online course (MOOC) phenomenon emerged at the end of the first decade of the new century in a world that was being radically transformed in two major ways. Technological change, particularly with respect to digital communication, was progressing and being globally disseminated at a breakneck pace. No less dramatically, neoliberal globalization had been on the ascendency for three decades, relentlessly applying itself to and transforming virtually every country in the world.
Widely contested but unrivalled by a viable alternative, neoliberalism exerted its influence at every level: at the microlevel detail of the thoughts, actions and feelings of individuals; through the operational processes and systems of the institutions with which they have dealings; and up to the macrolevel, shaping the architecture of regional and global agreements on finance and trade. Among those institutions to be restructured along neoliberal lines was the university.
Compared to its previous incarnation, the neoliberal university was expected to meet different needs of a different society in different ways. Neoliberal policies placed public universities under intolerable strain, providing the imperatives for reform that an emerging class of university managers embraced and implemented.
Constraints on public spending led to universities devising ways to intensify the exploitation of the academic workforce and shunting an ever-increasing burden of debt onto the shoulders of students. In this unsustainable...
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