Government report identifies friction in sector over online courses
By Chris Parr
A lack of appetite, capacity and opportunity is preventing less prestigious universities from offering massive open online courses, a government report has found.
Whereas “elite” institutions – particularly in the US – view Moocs as an opportunity to enhance their brand and target students for recruitment purposes, smaller universities fear that they will lose their market share as their better known rivals exploit the medium, the report says.
The Maturing of the Mooc, a literature review released by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to coincide with the launch of UK Mooc platform FutureLearn last week, also highlights friction within the higher education community between those who welcome Moocs’ potential to “shake up” learning and those who are critical of the pedagogic and student experience they offer.
It concludes that most analyses suggest that Moocs are “disruptive and possibly threatening” to existing higher education models and predict “dramatic imminent change as a result”.
“Some suggest, however, that the Mooc proposition lacks novelty, and the scale of Mooc impact, along with its potential to transform universities, may be over-hyped,” it adds.
While scepticism about the educational rigour of current Moocs remains, the report states that learners who have completed them are generally positive about their experiences. However, getting the most out of them “demands skill and aptitude in online social networking…baseline capabilities…not widely enough shared for Moocs to present a realistic format for many learners” at present.
[ Full article available at Times Higher Education: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/small-fry-fear-big-fish-will-dominate-mooc-pond/2007702.article ]