Dear Commons Community,
The New York Times has its fourth article in a series that is examining free online college-level classes and how they are transforming higher education. This article focuses on Georgia Tech’s offering of a master’s degree in computer science via a MOOC online model developed by Udacity.
“But the courses [MOOCs} have not yet produced profound change, partly because they offer no credit and do not lead to a degree. The disruption may be approaching, though, as Georgia Tech, which has one of the country’s top computer science programs, plans to offer a MOOC-based online master’s degree in computer science for $6,600 — far less than the $45,000 on-campus price.
Zvi Galil, the dean of the university’s College of Computing, expects that in the coming years, the program could attract up to 10,000 students annually, many from outside the United States and some who would not complete the full master’s degree. “Online, there’s no visa problem,” he said.
The program rests on an unusual partnership forged by Dr. Galil and Sebastian Thrun, a founder of Udacity, a Silicon Valley provider of the open online courses.
Although it is just one degree at one university, the prospect of a prestigious low-cost degree program has generated great interest. Some educators think the leap from individual noncredit courses to full degree programs could signal the next phase in the evolution of MOOCs — and bring real change to higher education. “
The disruption is not happening. Online learning in colleges and universities will continue on the evolutionary path that started in the early 1990s. Millions of students (at least a third of all higher education enrollments) were enrolled in online courses before the MOOC phenomenon. MOOCs have been more of a distraction to this evolution embraced by Wall Street investors, the media, cost-cutting politicians, and technology companies and their foundations. As stated recently by Sebastian Thrun, founder of Undacity, in an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education:
“A medium [MOOCs] where only self-motivated, Web-savvy people sign up, and the success rate is 10 percent, doesn’t strike me quite yet as a solution to the problems of higher education.”
Thank you for your honesty!