Remember the MOOC?
Just a few years ago, the Massive Open Online Course was expected to reinvent higher education. Millions of people were signing up to watch Web-based, video lectures from the world’s great universities. Some were completing real assignments, earning certificates and forming virtual study groups — all for free.
Surely the traditional college degree would instantly collapse.
Today, much of that hype has subsided (though best-selling authors and newspaper columnists are still making the case that “the end of college” is nigh). And new research on 1.7 million MOOC participants offers a more nuanced view of just what these courses are and could become.
One of the biggest MOOC platforms, edX, is run jointly as a nonprofit by Harvard and MIT. And researchers at both schools have been poring over the data from everyone who participated in 68 courses over more than two years. That’s 10 million participant-hours. Here’s what they found.
A Lot Of Teachers And A Lifeline
In one survey of a subset of users, 39 percent identified as current or former teachers, and one-in-five had taught the subject they were studying. This finding supports the general profile of MOOCsters as being already well-educated.
“Educators are curious about new forms of learning and they are curious to learn from other instructors,” observes Justin Reich, a Harvard-based author of the paper. “Certainly, many folks at Harvard and MIT are excited by the idea that one of the ways MOOCs could make a positive impact on education is by being a resource for educators.”
[ Full article available at nprED: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2015/04/11/397295495/the-future-of-free-online-courses-new-research-from-mit-and-harvard ]