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The Philosophy of Open Learning

Peer Learning and the Intellectual Commons

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Edited By Markus Deimann and Michael A. Peters

In this book, internationally recognized scholars provide in-depth insight into the emerging field of open education. The Philosophy of Open Learning provides an overview of the current debates and introduces the reader to the overall discourse on open education. The broad range of topics, including MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and OERs (Open Educational Resources) is aimed at demonstrating that open education has emerged as a new principle for organizing higher education. Based on this idea, the book covers various issues that are backed up by thorough philosophical reflections that provide orientation for the heated debates. Open education is discussed in its various imbrications to other open movements, such as open access, and its relevance for education over the last fifteen years.
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Chapter Four: MOOCs, Neoliberalism and the Role of the University

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CHAPTER FOUR

MOOCs, Neoliberalism AND THE Role OF THE University

DAVID SMALL

 

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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