By Carl Straumsheim
Another professor’s learning materials? In my course? It’s more likely than you think.
The nonprofit research organization Ithaka S+R this month released its highly anticipated report on its work with the institutions in the University System of Maryland, which for the past 18 months have experimented with courseware from Carnegie Mellon University, Coursera and Pearson in face-to-face courses. Backed by a $1.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study aimed to produce some sorely needed research about massive open online courses and their usefulness to brick-and-mortar institutions.
Eighteen months later, the MOOC frenzy has calmed, and Ithaka’s findings are similarly muted.
“Our findings add empirical weight to an emerging consensus that technology can be used to enhance productivity in higher education by reducing costs without compromising student outcomes,” researchers Rebecca Griffiths, Matthew Chingos, Christine Mulhern and Richard Spies write.
In other words, hybrid courses that mix online content with face-to-face instruction can be just as good, though not necessarily better, than traditional courses.
But a second research question — whether faculty members can use course content created by their counterparts at other institutions, potentially saving both time and resources — produced less clear results.
Generally speaking, faculty members in the 17 courses studied enjoyed the outside content, most of which came from Coursera. Of the instructors using MOOC content. only three opted to use the video lectures alone in their courses, while 13 used different kinds of content, including quizzes. In future courses, 15 instructors said they would use MOOC content, but only a single instructor answered no.
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/07/21/study-mooc-content-traditional-courses-viable-if-inflexible ]