MOOCs are no longer a cultural export of the west

Stefanie Botelho's picture

At a recent event at the United Nations about education accessibility in the developing world, Anant Agarwal, CEO of the open-source online-learning platform edX and a former MIT computer scientist, heard one word too much for his liking.

“The most-used word was ‘hegemony.’ MOOCs are criticized: Is this U.S. hegemony in action?” he says.

The early wave of massive open online courses that began around 2012 was propelled by the excitement that anyone, anywhere could sit in on a course from some of the most elite universities in the United States. People from all over the world–especially from nations where access to higher education is limited–signed up in droves to participate in virtual classes like "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" from Stanford University or "Justice" from Harvard.

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