Various forces in academe continue to besiege MOOCs before the new form of learning can establish a solid footing within higher education. The latest assault on MOOCs comes from a similar, yet different type of course: the distributed open collaborative course, or DOCC.
The DOCC shares similar features with the MOOC, including videos and course materials. However, its creators, FemTechNet, insist that the similarities end there.
The website of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education describes the DOCC as “a feminist rethinking of the MOOC.” DOCCs build upon a feminist pedagogical framework that privileges the individual agency of instructors and students in their local environment, while also allowing for voices to chime in globally.
Of course, marketing DOCCs as feminist MOOCs strongly implies that MOOCs have something patriarchal about them.
In her upcoming DOCC, “Dialogues in Feminism and Technology,” Anne Balsamo, the dean of the School of Media Studies at The New School, and her co-facilitator, Alexandra Juhasz, a professor of media studies at Pitzer College, set the tone for each week’s course in brief video segments. They then leave the rest of the instruction to professors.
In a statement made to Inside Higher Ed, Balsamo delivers an acerbic declaration of war against MOOCs:
“The idea of the one best talking head, the best expert in the world, that couldn't be more patriarchal,” Balsamo said. “That displays a hubris that is unthinkable from a feminist perspective.”
Juhasz has high hopes for DOCCs.
She said, “While these structures mirror my own feminist values and approaches, I imagine that most educators will be intrigued by this more democratic and responsive model for technology enhanced learning.”
The FemTechNet militia aims to incite a revolution when Dialogues in Feminism and Technology, the only DOCC thus far, hits classrooms this fall semester. Already, it has garnered support from instructors at a number of institutions. Students at universities including Brown, Penn State, and Rutgers can take the course for credit.
The DOCC isn’t likely to dent MOOCs, with more courses emerging every semester from stalwart forces including Blackboard and Coursera—but it will start a conversation.