The Ethics of Teaching and The Emergence of MOOCs: Should Philosophers Support the MOOC?

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 21 (1):26-40 (2014)
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MOOCS, or massive, online, and open courses aheady have made a major impact on college education. They are touted as a means of developing the best educational products most efficiently and to the widest possible audiences. Of several reasons for concern about MOOCs, however, one briefly considered here isthe contribution MOOCs might make to the decline of the professoriate. The major issue I discuss pertains to the way we ought to understand the ethics of teaching. While promoters of MOOCs believe that the process of teaching can be separated from its content, or product, I dispute this claim. Followmg Alasdair Maclntyre, I argue for an ethics of teaching that includes an ethics of aspiration as well as the virtues. On the model of ethical teachuig thus presented, process cannot be separated from product, and MOOCs seriously interfere with the ethical objectives we seek to attain with our students.



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Robert Paul Churchill
George Washington University

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