A good online course replaces a textbook. If we ask instructors in our colleges, universities and public education systems to do their own online courses, we are asking them to create their own textbooks. We’ve never done this before. Some few instructors have written textbooks, but they have self-selected themselves to do so. Most faculty members haven’t written textbooks.
Instead, most faculty members use a textbook to provide basic material for the students and then the instructor brings her or his own special knowledge and understanding to the students. It is the instructors who embody the value–added by the educational institution to the students. It is the instructors’ expertise for which the student is paying his or her tuition and fees. It is not primarily the textbook for which a student comes to an institution. This is just as it has always been. Never in America have instructors in most colleges and universities developed all the content in the courses they teach; instead they have relied on textbooks for basic content and provided the extra value-added to learning themselves.
Today many institutions are expecting their instructors to author online courses. Since a good online course is equivalent to a textbook and even more, asking faculty members to create online courses is the equivalent of asking them to write their own textbooks. Most faculty members cannot do this. If institutions insist on this response to the challenge of MOOCs, they will end up with a multitude of courses of low quality.