Free Courses for a Big Problem

19 Jul

Students at Bossier Parish Community College

By Paul Fain

Free online courses have run into a backlash of late. But a handful of community colleges may have found a way to dial up open-source content to help tackle one of higher education’s thorniest problems: remedial education.

The two-year colleges aren’t offering massive open online courses as substitutes for their offerings, however, or for the instructors who teach them.

They have created their own online content, sometimes tapping free lectures from the Khan Academy or other sources. And rather than using it for stand-alone courses, the colleges have designed supplemental study guides for remedial classes or for the placement tests incoming students take.

Remediation is a serious stumbling block for students. Research has found that just one in four students who place into remedial courses will eventually earn a college credential or transfer to a four-year institution.

Major MOOC providers, particularly Coursera, have touted the potential of their courses to help more students succeed in remedial and gateway courses. That suggestion has rankled some in the community college sector, particularly the possible “outsourcing” of remediation to startups and professors at prestigious colleges. But a few acknowledge that there may be lessons to learn from the MOOC playbook, particularly when they have a say in how to incorporate those ideas.

[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: ]

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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in MOOCs in the News



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