MOOC Mania and the Ambivalent Future of U.S. Higher Education

2:00pm - 3:00pm EDT June 25, 2013

In what ways are digital technologies altering the landscape of resources and practices in higher education? This seminar presents an opportunity to critically examine the MOOC phenomenon, consider the broader context and anxieties in which the MOOC myth has been created, and think strategically about how to use emergent online learning platforms in the service of institutional mission. (Times EDT)

This seminar expands upon the Myth of the MOOC seminar offered April 5. Return participants as well as new participants are invited to continue the ongoing conversation about MOOCs and their impact on higher education.

MOOCs have generated wild speculation about what they mean for the future of higher education in the United States, with commentators in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and endless blogs, press releases, and other tributary media arguing polarized views of what MOOCs portend. Temptation exists to adjust strategy based on these spectacular arguments, but liberal arts colleges are better served by considering the broader context of opportunities and anxieties in which the MOOC mania is created. In addition to providing details of the MOOC phenomenon so far, this seminar will lay the groundwork for thinking about MOOCs as a cultural phenomenon emerging from a general atmosphere of both austerity and technophilic utopianism, suggesting what that means for strategy in relation to higher education.

Please participate in this broad conversation on MOOCs and the future of technology, public education, knowledge, and the liberal arts. We hope to have both newcomers and those who feel themselves experts on these topics join us. Something to learn or something to teach: each will be helpful in generating a new perspective on MOOCs.

Suggested Reading

Sean Andrews’ focus at NITLE is on the future of libraries and scholarly communications and the development of NITLE consulting program’s futures and scenario modeling practice area. An ACLS Public Fellow, Dr. Andrews is currently on leave from Columbia College Chicago, where he has served as assistant professor of cultural studies in the College’s internationally recognized Cultural Studies program. He has researched and written on the concept of immaterial labor and supporting cultural production in the digital age and a variety of other topics. Dr. Andrews holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and M.A. in Literature with an emphasis in Cultural Studies, both from George Mason University, and a B.A. in Communications from Southwestern University.

Event Hashtag

Participants are encouraged to share their thoughts on Twitter via this event’s hashtag: #mooc.


Campus leaders, strategic thinkers, innovators, and others from the NITLE Network who are interested in MOOCs and the future of liberal education are invited to attend this seminar. Attendance by institutional teams is encouraged; individuals are also welcome to participate.

Please register online by Friday, June 21, 2013. Participation in NITLE Shared Academics events is open to all active member institutions of the NITLE Network as a benefit of membership and as space allows. No additional registration fee applies.


For more information about this event, please contact Rebecca Frost Davis at

NITLE Shared AcademicsTM models a new approach to liberal education – made possible through strategic collaboration, driven by shared knowledge, and supported by emerging technologies. Campuses learn how inter-institutional academic exchange works by actively participating in it, building the knowledge and experience to re-architect liberal education.