Combining in-class instruction with high-quality MOOCs may resolve some of the hurdles facing stand-alone MOOCs, but questions about cost and the impact on faculty remain unanswered.
By David LaMartina
So comprehensively did massive open online courses dominate the conversation in higher education last year that The New York Times dubbed 2012 “The Year of the MOOC.” The potential of these courses to lower costs and increase access to education had pundits describing them as the savior of a sector mired in outdated, inefficient practices, and predicting a wholesale overhaul of the entire educational system. But preparations for their triumphal parade tend to overlook some significant issues–both pedagogical and economic. For starters, huge numbers of students–especially pre-professional young adults–are likely to struggle with the anonymity of the xMOOC format (used in the majority of courses developed by Coursera, Udacity, and edX). And on the economic side, schools and companies are searching for a business model that is both sustainable and delivers a quality education.
One way to address both of these issues may be blended MOOCs. Essentially, they utilize the flipped classroom model with some wrinkles: Outside class time, students take a MOOC imported from off campus–elite institutions dominate the market right now–but then meet in class with local faculty for discussions, problem-solving, group projects, and lab work. Not only does this approach give students more faculty and peer support, but it also solves some of the assessment and certification issues facing stand-alone MOOCs.
A couple of schools have already piloted the blended MOOC model. While it’s not perfect, the results have been positive overall. In the fall of 2012, San Jose State University (CA) partnered with edX to offer MIT’s Circuits and Electronics course in a pilot involving 87 students. Professor Khosrow Ghadiri selectively assigned MIT’s lectures and practice problems as homework, while students used class time for additional problem-solving.
[ Full article available at Campus Technology: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/08/21/blended-moocs-the-best-of-both-worlds.aspx ]