The Making of MOOCs in Composition: Writing Studies’ Role in the ‘Rise of the MOOC’

Chapter four analyzes potential models of public engagement that the field of rhetoric and composition might harness in order to go public in future debates about writing and instruction. In particular, this chapter highlights the public discourse surrounding the awarding of 12 grants worth nearly 3 million dollars by the Gates Foundation to several universities to develop MOOCs at their institutions. I analyze discourse surrounding three partnerships with MOOC developers Coursera and teams of academics at Duke, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State University. Specifically, I analyze in each case digital and print coverage of the MOOCs in newspapers; press releases, scholarly research that emerged from the engagement, and the public responses to the MOOCs from other writing specialists on a variety of digital media, including listserv messages and blogs. Based on this discourse, I argue that interventional orientations not only benefit from sustained engagement, a claim I made in chapter 3, but are also predicated on four key situational factors: motivations, benefits, costs and contexts. By reflecting more on these characteristics, I argue, writing studies specialists can more productively engage in public issues related to writing through interventional orientation


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