Can ‘born digital’ fix online education?

Stefanie Botelho's picture
Friday, August 22, 2014

One of the great ironies of online learning is that a tool created to foster personalized learning is actually quite impersonal, in practice. It doesn’t have to be that way.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) are based on a simple premise: deliver free content from the world’s greatest professors to the masses, and a global community of students could take the same courses as students attending elite colleges and universities. The hope was that broad-based access to higher education would enable unprecedented numbers of learners to fulfill the democratic promise of higher education, social mobility and professional attainment.

It is now clear that the hype surrounding MOOCs has outpaced the model’s ability to deliver on the promise of a revolution in higher education. Initial data demonstrates that MOOCs have lived up to their name in terms of generating massive enrollments; however, completion rates — including introductory, lecture courses — hover in the low single digits.

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