College Professors Reactions to MOOC’s

I’ve had email subscriptions to EdX, Coursera, and Udemy and even taken a “free” course through the massive online open course format, more commonly known as MOOC nowadays. I think it’s quite neat, and judging by the many students all over the world, people who might not usually have the opportunity to matriculate at the institutions that pioneered the format, it seems to be a clever idea. Tertiary education is free, or nominally fee-based in many countries around the world; but there is a common perception that an education derived from one of the global north “greats” – UK, US, Canada, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and France – your degree or certificate may not cut it in the modern world. This prophecy is fulfilled when would-be students from the global south, due to forces often manipulated by the very same nations – visa barriers, unequal exchange rates, lack of access to the qualifying secondary education, language barriers. MOOCs using the free and open format, often offering a certificate for a fee, earn double or triple benefit from these course offerings. They get to signal their virtue in offering free education to the global community, they promote and advertise their traditional formats, the certificate fees and loyalty that may garner future traditional matriculation give them earning potential (not that they need it given how much these institutions, and the nations in which they reside) have stolen from the rest of the world. For the institutions, they’re a boon. For professors on the other hand, perhaps not so much.
Online learning and MOOCs are a more accessible route to micro credentialling, celebrated by some, cautioned by others. Some professors see no problem with the format, particularly because it offers them new modes of teaching that are flexible. Those who are tech-savvy and already maximize functionality on their learning management systems, such as Canvas and Moodle, are better prepared and able to adapt to the new format. Some believe they take resources and attention away from traditional learning and they do not lend themselves to success in every area (I would imagine MOOCs are less convincing for the performing and visual arts, for anything where instruction in a hands-on setting is valuable). Some professors see hope in the format and identify being able to offer free education – altruism – as one form of value they place in the option. Others see MOOCs as a way to test out new innovations, which begs the question, is the experimental element beneficial to learners?
Overall it seems that the main concern for most professors is the learning curve and time commitment. As we have seen with the switch to online platforms during the pandemic, college professors and secondary school teachers faced high stress, and impossible hurdles having to fulfill their traditional teaching obligations and effectively learn new formats, modify materials, and manage more stimuli in the classroom. Whatever option is used for learning whether traditional classroom, online courses, traditional correspondence or MOOCs, two things are important: that the quality of education remains, and that those teaching are able to carry a fair burden of the workload.

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