Blogging @ CNM

Central New Mexico Community College

Some Colleges Go ‘MOOC’


Hello CNM!

Thanks for stopping by… I’m wondering how many of you have heard of MOOCs? If you hadn’t yet, you have now. And you will hear a lot more about them in the very near future.

It stands for Massive Open Online Courses, and it’s the latest craze in online higher education. Many think it will inevitably revolutionize higher education as we know it, for the better. Some think it’s a fad, or worse, an ominous threat to the pillars of education.

The basic idea behind MOOCs right now is making an online class open to anybody who wants to sign up free of charge, and with no credit awarded. One MOOC at the University of Virginia this term has 42,000 students! And some of the most elite institutions in the country – Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among many others – are leading the charge for MOOCs. It’s a way to expand their brand and provide their most talented professors a worldwide stage and rock-star status.

For students, MOOCs can give them a taste of a particular discipline before starting to invest in a degree. Or they can simply brush up on anything they fancy, like, say… American Revolutionary War history by sitting in on lectures from their couch with Harvard’s most distinguished history professor. Or they can learn Spanish or take a math class or a political science class at a community college, free. If they like what they see and learn, the idea goes, they might be more likely to register for credit courses and pursue a degree at your college.

Some colleges are already rushing to set up pilots that offer credit to students who have taken MOOCs.

It’s a fascinating topic. And it very well might revolutionize the direction of higher education, soon.

If this is the first you’ve heard about MOOCs, or you want to hear what’s being said around the country about them, below is just a few stories I’ve found interesting on the topic.

So, what’s your take on MOOCs? A natural evolutionary step for higher education? Or a dangerous dash into an educational quagmire? Or somewhere in between?

“Instruction for Masses Knocks Down Campus Walls” — New York Times

“Irrational Exuberance Over MOOCs” – The Washington Post

“Into the Future with MOOCs” – Chronicle of Higher Education, commentary

“Don’t Panic Amid Predictions of Higher Ed’s Demise” – Inside Higher Ed, faculty column

Georgia State U. to Grant Course Credit for MOOCs – Chronicle of Higher Education

“MOOCs and Tablet Computing Are Top Tech Trends in Horizon Report” – Chronicle of Higher Education

“What Campus Leaders Need to Know About MOOCs” – Educause

“Massive Open Online Classes Raise Questions About Future of Education” – NBC Nightly News

18 thoughts on “Some Colleges Go ‘MOOC’

  1. Is it possible to sign up to have the blogs emailed as they post? I would like them to show up in my inbox.

    MOOCs are interesting. Still formulating an opinon. MSE will be discussing them this term I beleive in our small group faculty discussions.

  2. MOOC – I do believe it has already revolunized higher education across the country. Sometimes I like to browsw MIT or Standford to get ideas for my teaching. Not having to pay for it is a real PLUS.

    • Wow! I’m so impressed that you use these MOOCs as a way to add to your teaching toolbox. What an innovative way to get new ideas about teaching.

  3. My wife actually signed up for one through Coursera on Modern Poetry and though she didn’t take full advantage of it: the discussion boards, doing the assignments, and the material was enlightening. While I think MOOCs work for some subjects, I’m not sure that it can replace the one on one, close contact with a good teacher. I think MOOCs will be a boon for engaged students and for people who love college and learning, but what about students that aren’t prepared, who need the committment of an active teacher who does more than just lecture or lead a discussion group?

  4. It is up to colleges and universities to challenge every assumed tradition and practice. Most of higher education is waiting for something to happen, for someone else to effect change. MOOCs will surely become an aspect of a new model for higher education, but it will not replace the traditional campus course and campus life. It will take a while to realize the best effects of MOOCs. In the meantime, our focus must be on a much larger prize. The revolution we need is the one that connects students from every level of our society to the supportive, encouraging and academic environment of the community college campus.

  5. I took a course from Udacity and it was awesome and have been following what they do. I think that this really is the wave of the future, as soon as the schools can figure out ways to give credit to those who attend and want a certificate. It sure isn’t for every student, but for those who can handle it, it is full of great benefits. I would be interested in seeing if we could do something for a few ‘trial’ classes here at CNM.

    I think the biggest advantage in New Mexico would be the access for those students who are in rural areas.

    I know that right now, the majority of students who take these classes don’t finish them, but I think as serious students find out they can take classes and get credit for them, those numbers would go up a lot. Also, in my experience, the instructional format doesn’t lend itself to retaining students. Once you sign up, you don’t hear from anyone in the course and that makes it easy to forget about the course. I think if the courses were built like we build our distance classes, it would be a better format for students.

  6. Inherently I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to further your education without having to pay for it. The real issue though, as the commenter before me posted, wanting to put those credits on your transcripts or be able to put them towards a degree. Are most people aware before starting a MOOC that there will be no way to give themselves ‘real world credit’? Or are they hoping that one day all this work will pay off? Also how does one know if they student in question even completed the tasks to allow credit if there is no one evaluating the work?

    I think that as long as it is made clear to the student that these are for personal growth rather than collegiate growth there is no need for mass panic that education is going down the tubes. These are great selling tools for colleges as well, as a way to sell their services to students who they may not have reached previously.

    • I’m reminded of the quote attributed to Albert Eistein, “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” MOOCs do seem to be a great tool for exposure to quality instruction for personal growth.

  7. The world is getting flatter by the day (to paraphrase Tom Friedman). MOOCs are just another example of the evolution of the increasing availability of information and resulting flattening of all information-driven hierarachies. Our job now, whether teachers, students, business people, or family members, is to increase understanding as much as information.

  8. I personally feel that this is a great opportunity for anyone who loves to learn. I, myself, would love to take advantage of listening in on a lecture given by a talented professor. Why not advance your intelligence, even if it’s for personal growth? It may not be beneficial for certain subjects depending on each individual person, but I don’t feel this to be any different than the online classes I’ve participated in before. I’ve yet to do more research on this and get a take on the opposition, but overall I think this is a great idea.

  9. I’d like to explore opportunities to offer FIN1010 “Making Money Work” on — the best site I’ve seen for MOOCs.
    (I’m taking a class w/ Dan Ariely from Duke later on this spring via coursera!)

    • Interesting idea Nicholas, perhaps a great opportunity for the families and friends of our dual credit MMW students to gain perspective and even learn the concepts of financial literacy right along with the student.

  10. I really like MIT’s open courseware (OCW). I know this is different than a MOOC so it doesn’t totally belong in this conversation but it’s kind of along the same lines. I’ve used their OCW several times to download lectures, course notes, and even textbooks created by their faculty, and these resources have helped me in my own graduate studies. How this might apply to CNM I’m not sure, save to direct students to other resources that may help them through our classes.

    On a different note, what about something like Netflix for CNM? A student could go to the CNM channel which would then display every course offered by CNM, first perhaps by category, then by course number. As soon as they click the course they’re interested in they could select a particular lecture and watch their favorite CNM instructor deliver the goods. (Or perhaps more practically, a lecture given by a pool of faculty who create video/online lectures). If it’s done well enough maybe we could offer something like this directly from the CNM home page. Who knows? Maybe we can flip the classroom through the CNM home page.

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