So, let’s review MOOCs as if we’re cruising their online dating profile: online, available everywhere? Yes. Interaction with instructor and peers? Yes. Affordable? Yes. Don’t even have to put on clean underwear to impress? Yes!
It sounds like the type of sex education you should get in bed with, right?
Well, yes and no. Sex educators are split on the value of the MOOC model, and many of them seem to like the idea more in principle than reality.
There isn’t anyone out there who doesn’t want to see more sex education. For kids and adults. And with the growth and understanding of our collective sexual knowledge, having people who can deliver that information is integral. Nowadays, we are lucky to have a growing group of educated, accredited sex instructors who can take the Ben Wa ball and run with it.
However, because sex education does not have a large institution behind it to underwrite the creation and administration of free courses, MOOC-style courses would have to be created as a goodwill measure. And in an age when more and more is being asked of people in the name of community, these sorts of projects are increasingly coming down to a stalemate.
So, the debate becomes how to reconcile the needed sharing of sexual knowledge with ensuring justified payment to worthy educators? I asked three prominent sex educators if they would participate in creating a MOOC - even if it cut into their bottom line.
Carlyle Jansen, founder, educator and sex coach at Good For Her, has built a significant reputation for herself and the shop, in large part because of the many workshops she provides (including some online ones). Because of many years of success, she is interested in the MOOC workshop potential, even if no profit is to be made.
"As an organization and as an individual, I already offer many free workshops. It is part of being in a community," Jansen says.
On the other hand, Charlie Glickman, PhD, sex and relationship coach, well-known for his writing and the connection he establishes with students, offers a pragmatic view of the MOOC model.
"My knowledge and expertise has been over two decades in the making," Glickman said. "Valuing my labor and the effort it took to get here means not giving it away. From the feedback I get from my clients and workshop attendees, I give a lot of value and I think it’s fair for me to get paid for that. So, no. I wouldn’t participate in creating a MOOC on a volunteer basis. I would consider it if I could a) be paid for my work, b) receive royalties for any payments made by students who take the course, or c) advertise my coaching work. I’d be open to hearing about other possibilities, such as helping create something that might or might not show a return on my labor, but I’d need to know that there was a plan to make it successful."
Ashley Manta, sex educator at Sex Ed with Ashley, centers her consideration in the needs of the learner.
"I would [participate]. Knowledge is vital to healthy sexual interactions, so anything that would increase the collective sexual knowledge base is a positive thing, even if it costs me earning potential," Manta said. "There will always be people with different learning modalities who will prefer live workshops to online workshops. I wouldn't want to prevent those who tend toward online learning from obtaining valuable information for the sake of preserving earning potential."
There is no easy answer to this dilemma. Just as academia struggles with MOOCs, so does the sex community.
Tell us what you think. Would you like to see more online sex ed? Would you pay for it?