by VanessaVaile

A thoughtful discussion of contingent, gendered academic labor in the MOOC model: the pervasive devaluation of “care work” done by the powerless, especially when on behalf of other powerless groups, their social and economic counterparts “rarely in a position to protest.” Ultimately, anthropologist Kathleen Lowrey calls on students who are in a better position to protest, noting, ” If they don’t, it’s pretty clear at this point that no one else who can make a difference will.”

Arts Squared

Guest Post by Kathleen Lowrey, Associate Professor, Anthropology

In a recent New York Times article on the rise of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), Udacity’s David Stavens is quoted as saying, “We reject about 98 percent of faculty who want to teach with us,” because “students will want to learn from whoever is the best teacher.” If the article (and others like it) is any guide, it looks as though the overwhelming majority of MOOC-calibre teachers are men. This may well be down to the fact that most MOOCs launched to date have been in male-dominated science and technical fields. However, in this regard MOOCs — innovative as they may be in other respects — repeat a pattern that characterizes contemporary university teaching as a whole.             

The public face of university teaching is still that of the tenured professor, and by the numbers, that face is still male…

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