By Steve Kolowich
If highly selective colleges begin awarding credit to students who pass massive open online courses created by their faculty members, the institutions could undermine their ability to invest in promising students, according to an analysis by a well-known Stanford University economist.
Caroline M. Hoxby rose to prominence with her research into helping talented, low-income high-school students make better decisions about where to apply to college. In a new working paper published online by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Ms. Hoxby takes on the subject of MOOCs and what they could mean for colleges.
Her conclusions—that MOOCs provide a more suitable substitute for certain nonselective-college programs than for selective ones—are not necessarily as intriguing as her analysis, which frames the issue in economic terms.
Highly selective institutions like Stanford do not so much sell education programs and services for an upfront fee, Ms. Hoxby writes. Instead, they invest in promising students who are likely to attain wealth and influence after college. Only a fraction of those students will end up making significant gifts to the institution later in life, but those gifts subsidize the programs and services Stanford supplies to all its other students.
[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/stanford-economist-elite-colleges-should-not-give-credit-for-moocs/49811 ]