We will start from the article you all probably have seen in the New York Times in 2012:
These classes are massive, open, and online courses that can be taken for a variety of needs, reasons. Really its open season on what could be taught online and a few companies deal with MOOCs such as Coursera and Udacity and edX. These courses allow for many other people to have the opportunity to have educational opportunities. In a way, these MOOCs take away some of the economic barrier that higher education inherently creates.
However, are they the future? In some cases quite possibly, in others no, not as much. For example studio courses in architecture would not translate well into solely being in the digital realm. This does not mean that other disruptive technologies cannot be used in architectrual education.
Blogs, websites, twitter, tumblr, and many other ‘disruptive’ technologies can enhance and widen the viewership of work done in a more traditional setting. For example a designer uses a website to promote their work to potential clients or employers. Twitter and tumblr can be used to create a presence online which can reinforce and disseminate ideas.
So, in this way these ‘disruptive’ technologies are not disruptive to the goal of education, but to the monotony of it. They allow for new opportunities and learning experiences to be achieve through the use of atypical learning and teaching styles.
An example of these Web 2.0 capabilities in the classroom is found in this pre-print pdf article
Its a hefty link, but the work done by Lowenthal and Dunlap is very interesting. They talk about how online learning must shake hands with social process of learning.
The fits nicely into the one of the concepts of communicating science: not everything thing need to be completely scripted in learning. To have things be more open to improvisation and the ‘just-in-time’ interactions twitter can provide show how social media can be used in the classroom.
Remember though that anything can be abused, like cheating blatantly in the MOOCs or forced into a learning environment, like twitter. Web 2.0 and other disruptive technologies have the potential to do great things in the classroom, we cannot afford to misuse them.