The role of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in the democratisation of tourism and hospitality education



Publication Details

O'Mahony, B. & Salmon, G. 2015, 'The role of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in the democratisation of tourism and hospitality education', in D. Airey, D. Dredge & M. J. Gross (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and Hospitality Education, Routledge, London. pp. 130-142.


Early educational theorists have commonly expounded the link between philosophy and education, positioning education as a moral, social imperat ive and public good (Peters, 1966). By contrast, hospitality and tourism education evolved from an operational context (Airey, 2005; Morrison & O 'Mahony, 2003) and the vocational ethos permeating the curriculum has focused, in the main, on extrinsic goals. The advent of degree- level studies, however, prompted the developmellt of a holistic body of knowledge (Airey, 2005) which has allowed tourism to gain 'recognition as a separate area of study in its own right' (Fidgeon, 2010: 700). While the higher education tourism curriculum has incorporated liberal studies such as geography and sociology and included social goals such as poverty alleviation, the hospitality curriculum has, for the most part, remained true to its vocational roots (Lashley, 2013). Arguments for the inclusion of a more liberal hospitality framework in the mid-to- late 1990s have led to the recognition of two curriculum streams within hospitality programmes. These are: hospitality studies - informed by a range of d isciplines; and hospitality management education - aimed at the development of managerial competencies (Lashley & Morrison, 2000; Morrison & O'Mahony, 2003; Wood, 2013). However, the potential ofthe hospitality studies stream has yet to be fully realized. T here are a number of reasons for this. O ne is that the emphasis o n the development of managerial competencies has aligned well with employment outcomes and the needs of the industry (Slattery, 2002). Another is that there has been an increasing reliance on education as an expmt industry in many countries. Both of these issues suppmt a government focus on improving efficiency in what has been described as a ' neoliberal' funding environment (Ayikoru et al., 2009; Marginson & Considine, 2000; O'Mahony, 2009).

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