The popularization of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has been shrouded in promises of disruption and radical change in education. In Canada, official partnerships struck by higher education institutions with platform providers such as Coursera, Udacity and edX were publicized by dailies and professional magazines. This print coverage of MOOCs captures the contemporary ideological struggle over the meaning of both technology and higher education. By means of a thematic analysis of the English Canadian print coverage of MOOCs (2012–2014), this paper shows that both online educational technologies and higher education are constructed through an economic frame. However, this frame does not go unchallenged. Where newspapers construct MOOCs as an easy fix for an allegedly inefficient and outdated higher education system, professional magazines question the relationship between technology, higher education and money. These different representations point to the efforts of academic communities to develop alternative social imaginaries of education as public good within a dominant neoliberal framing of MOOCs and of the higher education system. In conclusion, the paper reflects on how the academic community can create alternative discursive spaces by shifting the discussion of MOOCs from economic concerns to civic goals.