“Finding the Balance”: Motivating Factors Behind Arts Faculty’s Choices Regarding Massive Open Online Courses
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CitationElmore, Lauren Britt. 2016. “Finding the Balance”: Motivating Factors Behind Arts Faculty’s Choices Regarding Massive Open Online Courses. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractIf we were to believe all the rhetoric around massive open online courses (MOOCs) just a few years ago, we were witnessing the revolution in higher education. David Brooks of the New York Times described the arrival of MOOCs as a “tsunami” (2012). Though much of the excitement has died down, the number of MOOCs continues to grow, as does the debate about their purpose and their effect. Notably absent from this discussion is the voice of the arts in the academy.
This dissertation explores the decisions of fine arts faculty as to whether or not to engage with massive open online courses (MOOCs). It examines the personal, pedagogical and political factors that influence their thinking about MOOCs. These include faculty opinions on technology in American culture, higher education, and in their own lives; the issue of time in their lives for this new work; their conceptions of arts learning and of MOOCs; and the institutional motivations that affect their choices.
This study comes at a critical time, as the rapid growth and dramatic presence of MOOCs have sparked much discussion about their place in academia. They have also given rise to conversations about pedagogy, student access to education, and the role of technology in teaching and learning. Faculty who teach the fine arts – a group that already has a tradition of being marginalized within the academy – have been absent from these discussions. It is important to identify why this might be the case, since this absence may have major implications for the future of the fine arts on college campuses.
Through semi-structured interviews with 16 faculty members from four colleges and universities, this study investigates how fine arts faculty are making meaning of their place in this new pedagogical landscape and what their choices might mean for the future of their discipline.
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