Educators Question What to do with MOOCs!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that college faculty and administrators are questioning what to do with massive open online courses (MOOCs).  In the last several months, a number of universities have signed contracts with Coursera, a private company specializing in offering MOOCs.  However, as the Chronicle article states, the worth of these courses are being debated.

“At many colleges, the faculty itself is divided over whether to embrace MOOC’s. “You have a division between some faculty members who are very excited about the potential of technology and really running with this, and people who are just trying to explore it” more cautiously, said Mark F. Smith, a senior higher-education policy analyst at the National Education Association.”

The University of Southern California’s president, C.L. Max Nikias, outlined the university’s goals for online education in a message to the campus. It noted that MOOC’s were off the table.

“Other universities are increasingly offering online courses for free, with scant concern for whether enrollees ever complete a course,” he wrote. “Our goal, by contrast, is to ensure that the educational experience is reserved for only those students with the requisite interest and ability to meet our faculty’s high expectations.” He added that Southern Cal “does not intend to join the growing ranks of institutions that seek to franchise undergraduate education through the Internet or through smaller satellite campuses abroad.”

While I tend to embrace the benefits of technology in instruction, I am curious as to how the MOOC model(s) will evolve.  As with many other aspects of instruction, much depends upon the quality of the teacher(s) and instructional designers regardless of technology.