Blog Post

Future of Higher Ed at Duke, Class #4

Wednesday marked the fourth week of the face-to-face class and our second round of inter-campus Google Hangout discussions with Duke, UCSB, and Stanford. This time the conversation featured Dr. Cathy Davidson and her book Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Businesses for the 21st Century (2010). Like our Hangout with Dr. Newfield, our conversation was guided by questions that students wrote on a Google Doc. Unlike our first discussion, however, the live streaming of the Google Hangout failed and we lost our public audience. Because of this situation, some people may have missed out on the conversation.

Of all of the questions that students asked Dr. Davidson, I was most interested in the very last question posed, which was about whether MOOCs internationalize education. Given that I had written a blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education last week about MOOCs and the promise of internationalization, I was highly interested in both the question and the response. It was stated that the current problem with the MOOC “The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education”—and other MOOCs as well—is that we can’t yet tell whether internationalization is occurring. The commenter had a point, and although we didn’t have time to debate and develop the conversation, I left feeling that such a debate is needed. So, here are some questions to consider:

1)   What do we mean by “internationalization”?

To me it seems that “internationalization” has been used to describe both a process and a desired product. As a process, internationalization signifies the inclusion of non-American people and their perspectives in U.S.-based education. In this way, it has also symbolized the move to democratize knowledge on a global scale. As a product, internationalization denotes the affective result of inclusionary practices. It has thereby been used to mean “cultural sensitivity,” openness to diversity, and a willingness to think critically about one’s own assumptions in light of global variation.

2)   Is there a way to measure “internationalization” on micro and macro scales?

Considering the above, one of the key challenges in thinking about MOOCs and the promise of internationalization is how to measure whether exchange between people is occurring and producing the desired results. What is an appropriate measure of internationalization as process? Additionally, once we establish that the process is in fact occurring, how can we measure for its effectiveness (ie. the desired product)?


I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to define and measure the internationalization of MOOCs.



1 comment

Hi Christina, I'm really enjoying your posts. Maybe we need a Bechdel test for your two questions: "internationalization" is present when participants from two or more countries that speak different languages talk about something other than [FILL IN THE BLANK] .... What could that blank space be? 

Cheers, Petra