The University of the People can now hand out degrees to its online students – but will employers take them seriously?By Louise Tickle
Even if the heady attention of one-to-one tutorials is the stuff of Oxbridge dreams for most, personal attention from tutors who challenge students‘ thinking in small seminar groups is often cited as critical to the quality of learning in higher education, and integral to the value of a degree.
Now close your eyes and imagine studying for a degree entirely by communing with your computer. Not just that, but you’re one of thousands accumulating credits via massive open online courses (Moocs), open to all, free to all and with no entry requirements besides an internet connection and reasonable fluency in English.
Very few Moocs lead to any sort of officially recognised qualification, so the recent success of the University of the People in being permitted to award degrees to students studying for its tuition-free, online-only courses marks a departure for the sector. Welcome to bachelors and master’s-by-Mooc…could these become a viable alternative to a traditional degree?
It very much depends, says Diana Laurillard, professor of learning with digital technologies at the Institute of Education, on what you mean by Mooc – and what constitutes a Mooc is evolving all the time. The University of the People, for example, states that undergraduates will study in groups of 30 to 40. This is a long way from the tens of thousands of students that some Moocs have attracted, and allows for tutor interaction and individual guidance not available on other such courses.
[ Full article available at The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/jun/12/moocs-viable-alternative-traditional-degree ]