By Cathy Sandeen
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, splashed on the higher education scene in sensational fashion in the summer of 2012.
When Coursera (a Silicon Valley start-up MOOC platform) enrolled its one millionth student, The New York Times took notice with a front page article, and the higher education trade press began covering the topic on a daily basis–often with multiple stories a day. Coursera and two other major MOOC platforms, Udacity and edX, were hailed as truly transformational, a potential cure-all for the problems of how to contain college costs and boost the number of Americans who earn college degrees.
It’s only been a year since MOOC-mania took hold, but already it’s been a wild ride, a fast-changing evolution both in how MOOCs are viewed by the general public and the higher education community and in how the courses might best be applied to the needs of colleges and universities and the students they serve.
Indeed, just last week an Inside Higher Ed story explored questions raised by Dan Greenstein of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about whether higher education is suffering from “innovation exhaustion” at least partially caused by MOOCs.
It certainly hasn’t taken long for the pendulum to swing from what I like to call the MOOC 1.0 era, through the MOOC 2.0 period and quickly on to what I have dubbed the MOOC 3.0 era. The MOOC 3.0 era shows us that these courses and the technology that drives them hold great promise for expanding the higher education pipeline but in a much more nuanced and customized manner than envisioned when they first burst into public view. MOOC content and concepts are being integrated with more traditional, mainstream higher education delivery models, producing rapidly evolving hybrid forms of MOOCs where, for instance, students take an online class but also have the opportunity to meet in-person with tutors. My organization, the American Council on Education (ACE) is involved in a research effort investigating how students might gain traditional college credit for successfully completing a MOOC.
[ Full article available at The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cathy-sandeen/from-hype-to-nuanced-prom_b_3618496.html ]