I have been looking at the way that massive open online courses (MOOCs) have begun to affect the control relationships between faculty and administration over the control of course construction and program development. (See, e.g., Debating MOOCs: Shared Governance, Quality Control, Outsourcing, and Control of Curriculum at Harvard, Duke, American, San Jose State; MOOCs at Penn State; An Update).
(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)
The issue of MOOCs raises a more interesting issue--the effects of MOOCs on more sharply drawing the hierarchical structures among universities. One of the consequences of thisvertical ordering of universities is the potential that MOOCs could be used to substitute the faculty of higher reputed schools for those of universities of lower reputation; or as the Philosophy Department faculty at San José State put it in "an open letter, the philosophy professors warned that such collaboration could mark beginning of a long-term effort to “replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities.”" (Steve Kolowich, "MOOC Professors Claim No Responsibility for How Courses Are Used," Chronicle of Higher Education, May 21, 2013).
It is clear that issue of the use of MOOCs to displace faculty raises important ethical and operational issues for administrations at all universities--both exporting and importing institutions. But it also raises the related issue: "Are professors who develop and teach MOOCs responsible for how those MOOCs are used?" (Steve Kolowich, "MOOC Professors Claim No Responsibility, supra.)
This post suggests emerging views.