Online Education and the Development of MOOCs

Thu, 10 Jan, 2013     developmenthigher educationmoocsonline education

Course delivery via the web began in 1994 and has exploded ever since.  There has been a steady growth in popularity of online education to the point that by the fall of 2010, almost one-third of post secondary students in the United States were taking at least one course online.  By the end of this past year, 2012, many higher education programs, and big ones at that (MIT, Stanford, and Harvard), have thrown loads of resources, investments, and presidential backing behind a new concept called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

MOOCs are designed much like college or university courses, but they do not typically offer credits to students.  They are free of charge and are scaled to enable an unlimited number of students to take the course.  The faculty members who design these courses also lead and teach them.  The early foundations of MOOCs can be traced back to 2007-2008, but when Stanford University offered its "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" course in 2011 it was offered to anyone in the world, free of charge and had 160,000 people enrolled in the course worldwide.

However, for MOOCs to truly transform higher education the concept must meet a few criteria before doing so:

    Develop self-sustaining revenue models.
    Authenticate students so that their identity is known to hiring companies.
    Provide some type of valuable signifier for completion of the courses (ie...badges, credentials).
    Increase course completion rates by providing a better experience to students and a perceived higher value.

These are just a few of the challenges that MOOCs are facing, but I believe that these challenges will be ironed out and MOOCs will become a part of everyday higher education for years to come.  What are your thoughts on MOOCs?

More to come on the development and progress of MOOCs.  Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Jason Bennett
Instructional Design and Training Coordinator
Campbell University