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ERIC Number: EJ1064144
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Mar
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 32
ISSN: ISSN-1881-4832
MOOCs and Joseph Lancaster: Lessons from a Two-Hundred Year Precedent in Mass Learning on a Global Scale
Stevenson, William R., III
Educational Studies in Japan: International Yearbook, v9 p69-79 Mar 2015
Over the past three years, Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, have spanned the globe, educating millions with the potential to reach millions more. Taught by leading academics from top institutions, the courses are as complete as those offered in traditional settings; yet, in being web-based and tuition free, they disregard long-standing geographic and economic barriers. These qualities have led many to see MOOCs as a significant step towards universal education and the fulfillment of the United Nation's goal of education as a human right. MOOCs, however, are not without precedent. As others have noted, the twentieth century witnessed several--generally unsuccessful--attempts at using film, radio, and television for large-scale learning. What has been mostly forgotten is that combining technology and methodology to increase efficiency and reach a "massive" number of students predates all of these examples. This study argues that the attempt to use technology for the purpose of mass education dates at least to the early nineteenth century with the educational system of Joseph Lancaster (1778-1838). Furthermore, the Lancasterian system was far more successful than most pre-MOOC applications of educational technology, having a profound and global impact. As such, the Lancasterian system deserves to be reevaluated in the context of recent developments and, as a predecessor to MOOCs, its successes and failures should serve as distant guideposts to further MOOC development.
Japanese Educational Research Association. UK's Building 3F, 2-29-3 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033 Japan. Tel: +81-3-3818-2505; Fax: +81-3-3816-6898; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A