The MOOC Experiment

18 Mar

By Dr. Mariappan Jawaharlal

New York Times declared 2012 as the year of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). It was the year when Udacity, Coursera and edX, the three leading MOOC companies, took the education world by storm and promised a lot.

Sebastian Thrun, co-founder of Udacity, proclaimed that in 10 years, job applicants will tout their Udacity degrees. In 50 years, he estimated that there would be about 10 educational institutions in the world providing higher education and Udacity has a shot at being one of them. Last year he threw in the towel because “the basic MOOC is a great thing for the top 5 percent of the student body, but not a great thing for the bottom 95 percent.” Udacity changed its course, from trying to become one of the top 10 institutions in the world, to focusing on corporate and vocational training. Today, Udacity strives to become the online version of DeVry University.

Ananth Agrawal, CEO of edX, predicted that in less than a year one of edX’s partner universities would offer a purely online degree. Three years have passed since then and there is no sign of purely online degree from any of its partner institutions. Coursera, founded by two Stanford professors, is by far the largest in terms of the number of courses offered and students enrolled. However just like Udacity and edX, Coursera does not have much to show off in terms of student success rates.

So what is going on? What is the future of MOOC?
Well, MOOCs are going through a maturing process like any other business. Despite all the hype, there is no question that MOOCs are here to stay. MOOCs will transform higher education NOT for the reason that they were originally touted for vis-à-vis the massive number of students enrolling in the class.

What advocates of MOOC have failed to see is that it is not about reaching hundreds of thousands of people. Educating mass numbers of people in higher education quickly and for free is a pipedream. That will never happen for the same reason why most people never achieve their New Year resolutions. According to the University of Scranton research, just 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s goals. This data is consistent with the completion rate of MOOC data. In many ways low completion rates can also be compared to window shopping. Lot of people will like to look at things in the mall but not everyone is willing to pay for it.

[ Full article available at The Huffington Post: ]

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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Industry News, MOOCs in the News


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