Tag Archives: MOOCs

Coursera: Promise and Potential in Unexpected Places

Hand holding a globe

I’ve held back from giving an evaluation Coursera preferring to wait until I completed an entire course, which I did recently, Introduction to Sociology, which closed on July 20th.  This course had 40,000 students enrolled which is consistent with enrollment for a MOOC, though the number of students completing both exams I’m sure was far lower. If you are not familiar with Coursera, Coursera is a joint effort to offer free undergraduate level courses, which are Open, Online, and Massive, a.k.a. MOOCs, by Princeton, University of Michigan, Stanford, and University of Pennsylvania. Recently Coursera, received additional funding and signed on several more university partners including a selection of foreign schools, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the University of Toronto, and a technical university in Switzerland.

In this post I’ll outline why I think Coursera has promise and potential, but not necessarily as a ‘fix’ for Higher Ed, but more for the promise it holds to meet other educational needs, other gaps that have yet to be addressed [or discussed for that matter]. And though Coursera has the right formula for bringing online education to the masses – with its sophisticated and user-friendly platform that could morph into a fix for Higher Ed, I think the potential goes further. Though perhaps radical given the perceived current crisis at hand in Higher Ed, why not explore how MOOCs can meet educational needs at a different level?

Full Text: Coursera: Promise and Potential in Unexpected Places | online learning insights.

What MIT Should Have Done

Dan Butin

Ten thousand students have just taken the final exam in MITx’s course “6.002x Circuits and Electronics.” The sheer size of this course (120,000 first registered back in March), the high-wattage backing of MIT for a certificate of completion to all those who make it through to the end, and the free, open access nature of this MOOC (a “massive open online course”) seemingly ushers in a fundamentally new paradigm in higher education. When coupled with the recent headlines about similar ventures such as Coursera, Udacity, and MIT’s own new partnership with Harvard to form edX, the policy world has been positively aglow: David Brooks calls it a “campus tsunami”; John Chubb proclaims it an “historic transformation”; Thomas Friedman writes, simply, “welcome to the college education revolution.”

In one respect, such adulation is completely understandable. MITx has given anyone, anywhere, the chance to learn from a world-renowned professor at one of the top universities in the world and receive a certificate of achievement for so doing. And it’s just a matter of time before edX (or someone else) solves the logistics of user authentication to turn this certificate into transferable credit for a nominal fee. And as edX and others expand their computer-driven and fully-automated course offerings this fall into the humanities and social sciences (Coursera already has more than 9,000 students enrolled in its fall poetry course), the notion of place-based education seems no longer secure. As Kevin Carey has written, the “monopoly has begun to crumble. New organizations are being created to offer new kinds of degrees, in a manner and at a price that could completely disrupt the enduring college business model.”

Indeed. If I can take the vast majority of my general education requirements from top-notch professors at famous universities in the comfort of my bedroom, why should I ever again have to pay $400 per credit to get dressed, drive 20 miles to my regional college, search for a parking space, and attend a lecture in a massive auditorium with 300 other students listening to an adjunct I don’t know go through a PowerPoint lecture I could have scrolled through at 1.25X speed in the MITx course? In one fell swoop, every introductory college course in the country has been put on notice.

Full Text: elearn Magazine: What MIT Should Have Done.

4 Professors Discuss Teaching Free Online Courses for Thousands of Students

What is it like to teach a free online course to tens of thousands of students? Dozens of professors are doing just that, experimenting with a format known as Massive Open Online Courses. And there are more providers than ever, some working with elite universities, and others that allow any professor to join in

The Chronicle asked four professors, teaching on different platforms, to share their thoughts on the experience so far. The responses are based on e-mail interviews, which have been condensed and edited for publication.

Peter Struck  David Evans  Margaret Soltan  Curtis Bonk

Full Text: 4 Professors Discuss Teaching Free Online Courses for Thousands of Students – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.