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Christopher Newfield

The large-scale massive open online course (xMOOC) rose to prominence in 2012–13 on the promise that its outcomes would be better and cheaper than those of face-to-face university instruction. By late 2013, xMOOC educational claims had been largely discredited, though policy interest in ed-tech carried on. What can we learn about the future of ed-tech by analysing this eighteen-month period in higher education history? This article gathers different types of evidence to suggest several conclusions: MOOC momentum was propelled by an administrative failure to apply due diligence to xMOOC educational claims. The MOOC path was also smoothed by a confusion among key commentators between xMOOCs and small-scale ‘connectivity’ MOOCs that did show meaningful learning outcomes. At the same time, online courses do not overcome race-based disparities of outcome and in some cases make them worse. In addition, student use of online courses appears to be instrumental, even cynical, further limiting their educational value. MOOCs will be back in modified form to endanger educational equity and quality unless faculty members articulate explicit goals and standards for public higher education to which ed-tech can be held accountable.

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Mary Taylor Huber, Joseph Heath, Rebecca Boden, John Craig and Christopher Newfield

Responses to ‘The academic rat race: dilemmas and problems in the structure of academic competition’, published in Learning and Teaching 5.2 from Mary Taylor Huber, Joseph Heath, Rebecca Boden, John Craig and Christopher Newfield

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Eli Thorkelson, Guy Redden, Christopher Newfield, Brigitte Bönisch-Brednich and Marie-Pierre Moreau

Christopher Newfield (2016) The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 430 pp., ISBN 9781421421629

William C. Smith (ed.) (2016) The Global Testing Culture: Shaping Education Policy, Perceptions, and Practice Oxford: Symposium Books, 302 pp., ISBN 9781873927724

Michael W. Kirst and Mitchell L. Stevens (eds) (2015) Remaking College: The Changing Ecology of Higher Education Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 323 pp., ISBN 9780804793292

Zuleika Arashiro and Malba Barahona (eds) (2015) Women in Academia Crossing North–South Borders: Gender, Race and Displacement Lanham, Boulder, New York and London: Lexington Books, 166 pp., ISBN 9781498517690

Genine A. Hook (2016) Sole Parent Students and Higher Education: Gender, Policy and Widening Participation London: Palgrave Macmillan, 230 pp., ISBN 9781137598868