For this week’s blog post I looked at a relatively recent article published by University World News titled “MOOCs fail in their mission to disrupt higher education.” https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20190123080937857
The acronym MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses. The authors highlight how the goal of these programs was to allow for more access and initially it did. From 2012-18 there were 12.7 million course registrations from over 5.6 million students.
However, the challenges that were found in the study demonstrate the drawbacks that I believe this approach can have. To begin with, will students still be interested after the initial buzz? The study found that 2nd year return rates fell at substantial margins every year. Another thing to consider is will students actually learn? Often times it is hard enough already to learn in a big lecture setting. Doing that online when the student has to stare at a screen for 3 hours which is often the length for graduate classes is even tougher.
Finally, are we making MOOCs available to everyone? Or just to the select few that can pay for it? The article mentions this topic as well. What if people do not have access to wifi and/or are unable to afford paying for an online program? How will they be able to partake in something people consider a necessity like online education?
These are questions we are experiencing now at Virginia Tech transitioning to Zoom. Will it work? Will all students be able to receive this education fairly? Only time will tell if MOOCs and other forms of online education will be successful in the long run.