Poor-quality courses on platforms such as Coursera, edX and Udacity could cause reputational damage to universities, says Oxford expert
By Chris Parr
A lack of quality control by massive open online course providers is leading to a poor-quality learning experience for students, and leaving universities at risk of reputational damage, according to the University of Oxford’s pro vice-chancellor for education.
Sally Mapstone, who is co-author and editor of a League of European Research Universities paper on Moocs launched in Brussels this week, said that Mooc platforms such as Coursera, edX and Udacity did not do enough to ensure that the standard of courses they offer was consistently high.
“I think the third-party providers should be asking that question [about quality assurance], and it is not clear to me that they have always done so,” Professor Mapstone told Times Higher Education ahead of the report’s launch. “I think they have tended to feel if it’s a Mooc from [a respected] university, it must be all right.”
This lack of screening, coupled with a rush by universities to produce courses in order to “be seen to be doing something” with Moocs, could mean that poor-quality online courses that reach thousands of learners are having a detrimental effect on the image of universities.
“There was a lack of thought [by some universities producing Moocs] about what you really needed to do to engage an online learner,” she said, noting that a lack of pedagogic thought meant that many Moocs were “presentationally boring”.
“Innovation hasn’t necessarily gone hand in hand with Moocs. There’s been a lot of criticism of some early Moocs for essentially being a male professor in front of a shaky camera, doing what they have always done.”
[ Full article available at Times Higher Education: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/reputations-at-risk-as-platforms-fail-to-screen-moocs/2014381.article ]