MOOC professors’ agency in the face of disruption

Posted on September 11th, 2015

Unlike the approaches that prescribe how faculty should engage with digital and open teaching and learning, this EDUCAUSE report describes Stanford University’s approach to supporting MOOCs that focuses on faculty engagement and empowerment.

The report describes how at Stanford, MOOCs are treated as an “opportunity to create a supportive environment for faculty to explore, create, and express themselves in new ways through open and digital education.” Through interviews with faculty, the authors describe how Stanford has developed a ‘soft infrastructure,’ which they define as “the resources, values, and affirmations that support faculty agency in experimenting with digital learning.”

By providing responsive support for MOOCs and the development of digital educational resources, offering seed money for creative experimentation, and fostering the development of community of practice to affirm faculty work, Stanford was able to foster an environment where innovation and faculty-led digital and open initiatives could flourish. According to the authors, this ‘soft’ infrastructure has supported faculty in developing 200 online, blended, or flipped course offerings in less than three years.