Courses affecting "how we think/live", in contrast, deal with hearts and minds. They influence how we think and believe, how we interact with others. Issues raised in these courses may affect students' identity and sense of self; how they engage with other human beings in their immediate circles; and how they view society and their own role in the world. Ultimately, with these classes, we may be changing norms and values.
This may seem a bit touchy-feely, but this type of education not as groundless or subjective as it might appear at first glance. In every "hearts and minds" class, students first need a foundation of common factual knowledge to build upon. So if we're talking pedagogy, there's certainly a role for quizzes based on facts: "Do you know the basic terminology, key events and information related to this topic?" However, it's also important for instructors to set this foundational learning in a larger context: What are the implications of these facts? What are some lessons learned from these case studies? And perhaps most importantly, how do we apply these lessons to our own lives? Social context is a key difference between "work skills" and "thinking/living", and as a consequence, the model of the classroom will be different.
Given these distinctions, it's important for humanities and social science professors to engage with MOOCs now. Whatever their limitations, MOOCs have already begun to change the conversation about what "education" means. Even though educators in these disciplines may have their reservations about the medium and what it offers, it's important to be part of the discussion so we can shape the future of the field, instead of running to catch up after the CS folks have already defined it.
Humanists and social scientists should take a seat at the table to describe what MOOCs are and also what we hope MOOCs need to become -- to set the agenda for their future development. If universities continue to push online learning (and Stanford seems intent on doing so), we have a stake in shaping that learning experience. We can be proactive in exploring how online tools can be couple with our classrooms, in defending the interests of our students, and in setting priorities for R&D. It would be less than ideal if, in a few years time, we are forced to shoe-horn our classes into a model that's already been dominated by computer scientists.
I have long been a whole-hearted fan of discussion-based learning, but given the power of the online medium to reach many populations around the world and potentially change the nature of education, it's also important to be on the forefront of discussion and take part in shaping the vision, rather than to arrive late to the party.