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