By Stacey Patton
Many graduate-school admissions counselors aren’t sure if they are ready for massive open online courses, attendees at an annual conference here said, or for the ways those courses could change both their jobs and their universities’ advanced-degree programs.
There seemed to be more questions than answers at a session about what the courses, known as MOOCs, might mean for the future of graduate education. “MOOCs are still very new to us,” said Christine Noyes, a graduate-enrollment-services adviser at the University of Washington. “We have to figure out how to adapt.”
The four-day conference, held by NAGAP, the Association for Graduate Enrollment Management, drew more than 900 attendees. Among the other topics they discussed were declining enrollments, high attrition and program cuts in a bad economy, the best uses of social media for recruiting, and how growing questions about the value of advanced degrees are affecting admissions counselors’ ability to market their institutions’ graduate programs.
Joanne Canyon-Heller, a board member at the national association and the assistant vice president for graduate and global recruitment at Roosevelt University, led the conversation about MOOCs. She started the session by asking the audience a string of questions: “Are we ready for MOOCs to come into graduate education, and what’s it going to mean for our jobs? Will MOOCs work in master’s and doctorate programs, or will they just blow over? How will they change faculty and student interactions? If MOOCs allow thousands of students to take courses, will too much quality be sacrificed for quantity?”
When Ms. Canyon-Heller asked the roughly 50 people in the room if their institutions offered graduate courses in the form of MOOCs, only one person raised a hand. But some people said conversations about whether to offer graduate-level courses as MOOCs, and experiments to test how that might work, have begun.
[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/article/Are-Graduate-Schools-Ready-for/138881/ ]