Gavia Libraria

Aggregating demand via MOOCs

Like everyone in US higher ed, the Loon has been watching all the MOOC talk. (For everyone outside US higher ed: a MOOC is like a MMORPG, only educational and—so far—less misogynist.) Her own workplace isn’t going in MOOC directions as yet, so all she can really do is watch.

She’s curious about a few things, though. Counters to the kyriarchy, for one. Can MOOCs shield women, GLBTQs, and other targets of dudebro culture from the dudebro culture they often encounter in face-to-face classrooms? (The Loon once took a data-structures course containing a dudebro who stared at her incessantly and hatefully, the intensity of his intimidation attempts all the worse when the Loon spoke up in class. The Loon is too stubborn to let some undergraduate dudebro kick her out of class. It was, however, a disturbing experience!) If so, that is a powerful potential social good.

The Loon has also been thinking about data-management education. She hears from other would-be trainers and instructors that science educators have been slamming doors in their faces. There isn’t room in the curriculum. There isn’t time. The Loon isn’t surprised by this; faculty of the generation currently in control of science curricula don’t understand why research-data management matters, and likely never will. We data curators will be added to the curriculum one funeral at a time, as the saying goes.

But what about making our own inroads via MOOC? Would anyone stop us? Would the way MOOCs aggregate scattered demand for knowledge help us find our audience? Do MOOC affordances let us teach them anything worth knowing?

The Loon doesn’t know. She’d like to find out, though; do any MOOCs, YouTube aside, accept instructors from outside the institution? If you can’t join ’em—curricula, that is—disrupt ’em.