By Steve Kolowich
Massive open online courses will not fundamentally reshape higher education, nor will they disappear altogether. Those are the conclusions of separate reports released this week by Teachers College at Columbia University and Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit advisory group.
Neither report contains any blockbuster news for those who have followed the decline of the MOOC hype over the last year or so. But they support the theory that the tools and techniques Stanford University professors used in 2011 to enroll 160,000 students in a free, online computer-science course will be subsumed by broader, incremental efforts to improve higher education with technology.
“It seems clear that MOOCs are neither the cataclysmic disruptor that advocates predicted nor the flash in pan their critics were hoping for,” writes Andrew P. Kelly, director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of the Bellwether report.
MOOCs are like free gyms, says Mr. Kelly. They might enable some people—mostly people who are already healthy and able to work out without much guidance—to exercise more. But they won’t do much for people who need intensive physical therapy or the care of a doctor.
[ Full article available at The Chronicle for Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/conventional-online-higher-education-will-absorb-moocs-2-reports-say/52603 ]