Free online courses are on the cusp. Can they go from intriguing experiment to workable solution to our higher education crisis?By Andrew McGettigan
The British Museum, British Council, British Library and 21 UK universities have now joined what they hope is a higher education revolution – giving the public access to the world’s top institutions and their best academics.
They have entered into partnership with FutureLearn, a company owned by Open University that will be launched in September as the UK’s “first free, open, online platform” for higher-level short courses. It aims to be the home-grown rival to similar platforms emanating from the US such as Coursera, Udacity and the not-for-profit edX.
Such platforms offer “Moocs” – massive, open, online courses: a free or low-cost alternative to traditional higher education that, say the evangelists, will roll out elite education across the world.
Moocs have no formal entry requirements or limits on places (hence they are “open”) and have had tens of thousands of people signing up – Coursera claims there are more than 3 million users. Significant levels of venture capital, grants and resourcing have arrived alongside bullish prognoses about the coming disruption to higher education.
[ Full article available at The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/12/moocs-scourge-saviour-higher-education ]