As more colleges and universities offer credit for MOOCs, one problem that has cropped up is how to authenticate the results of student assessments conducted online.
A handful of companies have developed a solution: online proctoring. Using a webcam to monitor the students as they take tests, online proctors can peer into students’ living rooms, kitchens or back patios, watching their computer screens and observing their eye movements to ensure they are not looking at notes in a closed-book exam.
In an online seminar on the Greek rhetorician Isocrates offered at the University of Pittsburgh, 176 students listened to a live stream of a discussion among graduate students taking the on-campus version of the class and then asked questions or made comments via Twitter.
The eight graduate students in the brick-and-mortar class took turns recording lectures once a week for the online students during the course this past fall. And both the online and doctoral students could interact with one another on the discussion board on Blackboard’s CourseSites platform.
When Tina Seelig, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, taught “A Crash Course on Creativity” last spring, the 38 students in her graduate class worked on the same projects as the 25,000 people around the world who took the MOOC version of the course.
The MOOC not only offered an alternative to Stanford students who were unable to take this oversubscribed class, but also included perspective from people across the globe.
An increasing number of colleges and universities are offering MOOCs, but few have crunched the numbers to determine whether these online courses can succeed as a business proposition. Where return-on-investment conversations are happening, they generally aren’t leading to comprehensive analysis.
Some institutions, however, are paving the way in their attempts to analyze the potential of MOOCs as a business model.
Online education providers say university and college clients considering developing MOOCs as a long-term strategy need to think about the economies of scale gained and how long courses can last before the content gets out of date.
It won’t quite be describable as a MOOC at first. But that’s one direction that Georgia Tech’s College of Computing can imagine going with its soon-to-be-rolled-out online master’s program, which will start as a pilot in January.
The program has received national attention in part because of a $2 million investment from AT&T—and because Georgia Tech is charging only $6,600 in tuition, compared to $45,000 that traditional master’s students from out-of-state would pay.