MOOC and Open Online Education

What are the implications of MOOCs on Higher Education and University teaching?  In this article on single-most-important-experiment-in-higher-education:

As Koller and Ng acknowledged in our interview, Coursera is still in some ways a work in progress. Its grading technology, they said, is capable of assessing sophisticated assignments in science and math, but the company is still working out the best way to handle longer written work for humanities and social science programs. And as with many Silicon Valley darlings, how it will generate revenue is also a bit of an open question. Ng suggested that some schools may sell branded certificates, or that Coursera could begin offering career placement services, matching employers with students who demonstrate specific skills.

What do these mean?  There are still lots of challenges especially on the assessment and accreditation of the courses based on MOOCs, like how to ensure the peer assessment (as outlined in the pedagogy of Coursera) could be worked out with the humanities and social science programs.

How to ensure assessment is done consistently and reliably in these x MOOCs?  How to ensure that the learners in the MOOCs are really who they claim they are, especially when taking tests or examinations?  How to ensure that the assignments submitted are based on the learners’ own work, and not a copy of others?   How to prevent cheating and plagiarism among learners in MOOCs?  Though it is argued that you can’t cheat in a MOOC, as it is not for University credit as the author suggested, but it has been revealed that the University of Washington said it will give credit for its Coursera classes.

It might soon be a common practice in giving credit based on those x MOOC classes, when identity and assessment issues are solved.

Another huge challenge rests with the economic models that would be adopted  for these x MOOC, and how they could ensure their sustainability in the long run.

How will MOOCs make money?  Various ways of making money though MOOCs are discussed there.

“One of the more provocative potential business models for MOOCs is to bypass credentialing altogether. Udacity has suggested that it might double as a headhunter for companies that might like to hire some of its more impressive students. Instead of simply selling those students credentials that they can list on their resumes while looking around for jobs, Udacity would offer to match students with companies that have enlisted Udacity as a talent scout. (The company has already hired a full-time jobs counselor to lay groundwork with potential employers.) Udacity would take a commission for each successful match, same as a headhunter.
A sustainable model would need to be based on a fee for service – i.e. requiring a fee for the award of a certificate from the University.  ”So far the only revenue stream that the major new MOOC providers have said they will pursue is charging a fee for a certificate.”
To what extent would institutions be ready for the development of a business model and plan?  What would be the actual running cost per participant who successfully completed in a MOOC?  These are important considerations for any Higher Institutions, before they would embark on MOOC.

There could be a need to “re-bundle higher education” as has been practiced in Colleges and Universities, in response to the x MOOC movement (see this online-learning-and-the-unbundling-of-undergraduate-education).   This means that Universities have to think of something else to sell (this post on when-courses-are-free-online-whats-left-for-universities-to-sell) in order to compete in this global higher education market.  Andrew however states: “While Australian universities have control over the most valuable credentials in the Australian labour market, and while they offer students an attractive broader experience, we can expect their long-term growth to continue.”

In summary, the x MOOCs that were introduced since last year has led to the opening up of new open online education opportunities for free to global learners.  These MOOCs have now attracted more than million students, and more students around the globe would be expected to join soon.  It is unsure how these MOOCs would evolve, even in the coming months.  There are lots of concerns as cited in various posts.  Nevertheless, the current trend of more universities forming alliance or joining the movement in offering MOOCs in the US have opened doors for experimenting new and alternative models of Higher Education.  It seems that these have already “disrupted” the usual offering of HE in the US Universities, and probably more universities in many countries would be developing strategic alliance with the top universities in the offer of new MOOCs.  This lead us to rethink about the challenging question: Can online courses transform Higher Education Industry?

Have the giants responded to the call for transformation of Higher Education?

I have shared it here in my post:

Here George shares his views on Why universities should experiment with open online courses. I think the AI courses, Udacity and Coursera are responses to call from George and Stephen, and I wish that all these initiatives would be successful, rather than a wash-down as industrial treadmill or for profits initiatives.

Postscript: This post on Inside the Coursera Contract: How an Upstart Company Might Profit From Free Courses provides some updates on Coursera Contract and its business model.

See this post relating to moocs-neither-the-death-of-the-university-nor-a-panacea-for-learning.

Photo Credit: Google EdTech


31 thoughts on “MOOC and Open Online Education

  1. I like the diagram, but doesn’t the diagram miss one of the principle points? That the assessment is either automatically done (memorisation or algorithmic in nature), or the learning experience emerges (but isn’t assessed) through participation.

    Because of the “massive” part of a MOOC, the assessment of any real “higher” skills (as “Higher” Education is supposed to represent) is missing or massively expensive. I don’t see MOOCS as game changers for that reason – unless we are really happy with the current factory output model for education.

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