Inside Higher Ed Reflections on the Status of MOOCs
Interested in learning more about how MOOCs are changing higher education? Download the free MOOC Moment booklet, a compilation of thirteen carefully selected articles from Inside Higher Ed that share perspectives of MOOC proponents and skeptics.Inside Higher Ed editors Doug Lederman and Scott Jaschik reflected on the fast-growing MOOC phenomenon in last week’s MOOC Moment webinar, sponsored by Academic Partnerships. According to Lederman, “we’re still defining the MOOC.” Jaschik explained that MOOCs originated in small, instructor-led courses and the Khan Academy, but in the format we know them today, MOOCs have been around for only eighteen months. “(MOOCs) have moved remarkably quickly in a short period of time,” Jaschik said. “Just two years ago MOOCs as we know them weren’t used in higher education.” And there’s no sign of letting up, either. Now hundreds of thousands of students are participating in MOOCs around the world. Name-brand universities, which according to Jaschik used to look down on distance education, now see it as an expansion of their brand worldwide. “It seems like you hear about MOOCs every day now,” Jaschik said. Because these high-quality institutions are at the forefront of MOOCs, mainstream media writes about the MOOC phenomenon on a regular basis.
Why Some Institutions are Turning to MOOCsAccording to Jaschik and Lederman, universities are turning to MOOCs for several reasons:
- Some see MOOCs as a mission to educate around the world. Great Britain Prime Minister David Cameron recently traveled to India to promote British MOOCs to students in Mumbai and Dehli.
- Some states see MOOCs as a potential solution to solving budget crunches and campus overcrowding. In California, Lederman said, community colleges are turning students away. The state’s legislature has already attempted to craft legislation that could require state schools to offer credit for a set of online course offered by outside institutions, including MOOCs. The legislation hasn’t been approved.
- MOOCs might help university enrollment, even though there are issues to be worked out regarding MOOC credit. Jaschik said early research shows only about seven percent of students complete a MOOC. But “with 100,000 students enrolling, you can make some real money with a seven percent completion rate,” he said.
- To some, MOOCs are a perfect solution for competency-based learning programs in which a student could take and complete a MOOC and receive a certificate.
Questions and Concerns We Have Yet to ResolveBoth Jaschik and Lederman highlighted some of the key concerns surrounding MOOCs:
- MOOC regulation—How can MOOCs lead to certification or course credit, and should that regulation come at the state or federal level?
- Peer grading and collaboration—How do thousands of students effectively communicate and learn through a platform that makes peer grading and collaboration a central element?
- Teacher-student interaction—How do students remain connected with and supported by MOOC instructors?
- Effectiveness of learning—How do we judge a student’s success in a MOOC?