It’s no secret that universities across the nation are facing more challenges than ever before. Shrinking budgets are contrasted with higher costs and aging facilities. The government is getting more involved from a regulatory standpoint while decreasing its funding support for education. Demand is up, enrollments are all over the map and across the board, and graduation rates are down. It’s a roller coaster of peaks and valleys that leaves schools fighting for ways to cope, retain students, and help them graduate on time.
Whether you think they are hype or the next step in the evolution of learning, there’s no question that MOOCs have taken the education world by storm.
Platforms such as Coursera, edX, and UniversityNow offer free courses online to students anywhere, and are continuing to grow. Coursera now has more than 60 partners here and abroad, including École Polytechnique in France, the National University of Singapore, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Massive open online courses are all the rage. By allowing anyone to take an online course—in the original form and without receiving a recognized credential from an institution—MOOCs appear to skirt the edges of the complex, multilevel regulatory framework governing American higher education. By different names, these courses have actually been around for years, but the promotion of MOOCs by prestigious American institutions has created a tsunami of interest. In the age of the MOOC are fascinating possibilities for advancing access to quality higher education.
It’s one of modern cinema’s most familiar and resonant moments: the scene in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon’s character humiliates a Harvard student, contending that the Ivy Leaguer blew $150,000 to learn less than Will could learn with a library card.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have captured the headlines in higher education in the past year. These new platforms were developed to enable both open access and large scale participation in online courses. Many top tier universities are joining the MOOCs bandwagon, afraid of missing an important piece of the Web-based phenomenon. It is our goal as educators to assess whether or not they can become a best practice in online learning.
Could the growing popularity of MOOCs cause retention troubles? Yes, if companies and schools come up with a way to offer credit for the courses, experts say.
Jennifer Beyer, a solutions consultant at Hobsons, expects the issue to start appearing if credit is offered, and also if access is no longer free.