By Carl Straumsheim
Cornell University and the University of Texas at Austin may have trumpeted their partnerships with — and pledged millions to — the massive open online course provider edX, but to no avail: Their students don’t seem to understand why.
“A year after UT began rolling out nine Massive Online Open Courses, the results are in,” The Daily Texan wrote in a Jan. 29 editorial, which appears to have been inspired by a recent article in The Texas Tribune. Among the “results” are completion rates ranging from 1 to 13 percent, the lack of credit granting courses and the $150,000 to $300,000 production costs.
“The university hasn’t laid out long-term goals for the MOOCs, and the numbers don’t bode particularly well for the courses’ overall success,” the editorial reads. “We’re confused as to why an unproven and unused educational experiment that isn’t even aimed at UT students is something the system feels they should continue funding.”
Members of the editorial board did not respond to a request for comments.
This week, students at Cornell voiced similar concerns, arguing that “the administration has not yet outlined how MOOCs will benefit Cornell students.”
“MOOC backlash” has become a common refrain in the conversation as the course delivery method transitions through the different stages of hype, but criticism has rarely come from students at the institutions offering MOOCs. Based on the questions raised, the editorials indicate students may see MOOCs as their alma mater investing millions of dollars in a project aimed at everyone but paying students — and also that university officials need to improve how they communicate the worth of their experiments.
Administrators and faculty members at UT-Austin acknowledged that questions about completion rates and revenue generation are legitimate factors in the ongoing debate surrounding MOOCs, but with one major caveat: The results are barely starting to come in.
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/02/12/ut-austin-and-cornell-u-students-question-their-institutions-investments-moocs ]