Tuesday, June 16, 2015


by Edward Hessler

By Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
[CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)],
 via Wikimedia Commons
It appears that MOOCs have been spooked. By data. The MOOC is shorthand for Massive Open Online Course, at one time heralded as the future of university education. Well, by some.

The rise and decline is summarized in three graphs in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, by Steve Kolowick for February 5, 2015. Graphs are great devices...a wonderful invention.

When MOOCs were coming on-line, I wondered, if they were to become successful and widespread, what this might mean, not only for the present and future of traditional colleges/universities, for teachers looking to increase subject matter knowledge, but also for high schools which today offer options for students to take courses and make use of MOOCS not only for high school graduation credit but also for college credit, e.g., dual enrollment programs. 

I've had no experience with MOOCs, other than peeking in on some (see below).  If you want an idea of the range of courses, see the Duke University offerings.  The course offered by Professor Mohamed Noor, "Introduction to Genetics and Evolution," has been well reviewed and remains active. Noor is the developer of a high school/college kit for describing selection in Drosophila sp.

MOOCs likely have a place but the hype about them taking over or significantly impacting the education world has collided with some hard realities, one is course completion rates. Another could be appropriateness. Some topics/disciplines might simply be better than others. The recently launched MOOC on climate denial, aka "Denial101x" seems to me a good example of such a course. It is free, open to all, of considerable interest and even includes an official certificate of completion for a small fee ($100) for those who find use for it. This course has received considerable media attention, e.g., a piece by Ari Phillips writing for ThinkProgress. I'm sorry it is too late to register but I suspect/hope it will be offered again.

If you have taken a MOOC, what has been your experience? If you know a high school student who has, what is her/his take on such courses?

h/t Jerry Becker, Southern Illinois University

No comments:

Post a Comment