McSweeny’s is brilliant at skewering fads. And there is no bigger fad in higher education than Massive Open Online Courses. MOOCs, as they are known.
Now I’m not quibbling with whether or not MOOCs are an interesting and potentially extremely valuable addition to the landscape of higher education, because I think they are. What I find unfortunate is how completely so many in the general public/commentariat/tech guru class seem to have so thourougly fallen under the MOOC spell, seeing all their libertarian free market dreams coming true. Almost like a cult.
Without any further ado:
I am an independent scholar and a committed father of thirty-eight beautiful children. My specialty is in neo-pagan fertility rites. Having joined my first cult at the age of twelve, I went on to found three successful movements in the contiguous United States and one in Sitka, Alaska. The Times-Picayune has repeatedly referenced my “purportedly magnetic personality” (print editions), and I was once a talking head on a Nancy Grace segment.
There will be weekly reading responses, peer-reviewed initiations and various creative projects (e.g., devising a secret handshake). The message board will be moderated by only the most promising cult leaders-in-training, who will also be available for Live Chat sessions should your commitment to the cause waver. You will be expected to record your growing dissociation from normal life on a shared Google Doc file. For the final exam, you will be required to pass a multiple-choice test and film a (non-human) ritual sacrifice.
There will be no college credit given for successful completion of the course; however, all passing students will receive a certificate and a link to my really creepy, encrypted website. Although the course is free, you do have the option of emptying your bank account to a cult leader of your choice (preferably me) for extra credit.
It’s very funny, especially the syllabus, so you should read the whole thing.