Disrupt This!

MOOCs and the Promises of Technology

Karen J. Head

In this smart and incisive work, Karen J. Head describes her experience teaching a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and the attendant pressure on professors, especially those in the humanities, to embrace new technologies in the STEM era. And yet, as she argues, MOOCs are just the latest example of the near-religious faith that some universities have in the promise of technological advances. As a teacher of rhetoric, Head is well versed at sniffing out the sophistry embedded in the tech jargon increasingly rife in the academy. Disrupt This! is a broader-based critique of the promises of technological “disruption” and the impact of Silicon Valley thinking on an unsuspecting, ill-prepared, and often gullible university community grasping for relevance, while remaining in thrall to the technologists.

Cover Image of Disrupt This!: MOOCs and the Promises of Technology
Cloth: $29.95 | E-book: $26.99
ISBN-13: 9781512600506
Pages: 208 | Size: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
Date Published: July 4, 2017


  • By showing how a professor in a top-ranked, well-funded university equipped with state-of-the-start technology was exposed to personal and institutional struggles, Head’s book asks as to the appeal for those with less financial and infrastructural privileges. Are MOOCs democratising or marginalising education? . . . Disrupt This! is a book that everyone interested in the subtleties of Higher Education and in the cost of technological changes should read.

    London School of Economics Review of Books
  • Head delivers a highly readable, deeply thoughtful, and pedagogically serious look at the use and abuse of technology in academia. Even as she unmasks the ludicrous rhetoric and limited platforms of MOOCs, Head remains determined to push pedagogues to the center of technological development in higher education. The disrupters, left unchecked, will wreak havoc, not through any of their promised radical changes, but by redirecting resources to ineffective tools and shiny toys, and away from the liberatory processes of teaching and learning.

    Radical Teacher
  • A lively, often entertaining-but deeply troubling-tale of the MOOC mania that recently gripped higher education, told by an insider who has lived it and who really understands the implications.

    Daniel F. Chambliss
    Hamilton College

About the Author

KAREN J. HEAD is director of the Communication Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and an associate professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication.

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