By Steven Mintz
To be sure, enrollment in online learning opportunities (MOOCs and beyond) continues to grow.
New courses (from stalwart institutions like the Ivies and unexpected ones like Wired magazine), new forms of degrees (nano- and micro-), and hybrid programs that blend traditional with online learning (where learners end up with the same credential as those who are campus-bound) continue to be released.
To the surprise of some, revenue has begun to be generated by many of the upstart providers: those with higher ed backers, others with only Silicon Valley cred (especially various coding boot camps and academies), and still others somewhere in the middle, pivoting to gain a broader share of an ebbing and flowing market (the for-profits are on the wane and the nimble next gen entities, like Lynda.com+LinkedIn, are poised to rise).
The heady headlines have not so much as faded, as become just a normal part of the news cycle, both within the higher ed media as well as national papers. (I have talked to my co-editor of this very blog about having to rethink our content strategy, as a once specialized niche is now common. Just look at Inside Higher Ed on any given day.)
Even organizations that have taken a cautious view about the evolving nature of higher ed, are starting to adapt.
”Things really are changing. And we have to change as well,” said Carol Geary Schneider, President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, in a recent Inside Higher Ed piece.
Harvard Business School (HBS) dean Nitin Nohria declared in a blog post that he had gone from being skeptical of online education to becoming a “super fan.” To wit: “Five years after I said ‘not in my lifetime,’ I now believe that HBX could easily be one of the most important initiatives we undertake at Harvard Business School.” That’s a bit of a wow kind of moment.
What, then, might be the future of the original MOOC providers? Or put another way and to borrow from HBS once again, what’s their potential “differentiation strategy?”
In their quest for financial sustainability, they have sought to fill the “skills gap,” providing courses developed in conjunction with major corporations.
As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, Coursera has begun to partner with major financial and technology companies, including Bank of New York Mellon, Qualcomm, Splunk, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and UBS AB to provide skills training in financial analysis, the Internet of Things, and big data. edX and Udacity, too, have launched collaborations with such companies as AT&T, Google, Procter & Gamble, United Parcel Service, and Wal-Mart Stores.
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-beta/mooc-providers ]