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This post first appeared on aud.life

The abstract for my forthcoming chapter in Routledge's World of Learning:

A myth is a culture's most sacred story, often about that culture's origins, often accepted as unassailably true. What are the myths that Silicon Valley tells about its origins? And as Silicon Valley makes increasing inroads into educational technology, what are the myths that it tells about teaching, learning, and technology? Who is cast as the hero in these stories? What sorts of battles does this hero have to overcome?

This article looks at the stories told about MOOCs, massive open online courses, and it argues that MOOCs have achieved mythical stature. As such, one cannot simply examine the history of MOOCs -- who invented them first, for example. One has to account too for the myth-making and the heightened significance granted to MOOCs.

MOOCs tap into Silicon Valley myth-making -- stories that posit innovation occurs outside of institutions like universities and the government and that predict that this innovation will disrupt incumbent players. One can see the debates over MOOCs' history in the edits made to its Wikipedia page. As comedian Stephen Colbert has argued, Wikipedia offers a "truth by consensus" -- "wikiality" -- that may well be a modern form of myth-making where certain elements and arguments seem to be unchallengable.

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Audrey Watters


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The History of the Future of Education Technology

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