The Inherent Flaws to MOOCs

I’d argue that MOOCs are inherently flawed and setup for failure – not from the content standpoint, rather from online higher education angle.  Here are my reasons:

  • Start date and completion date – similar to a classroom setting – basically you are going online on your free time to take a course with a specific start date – how is this different than attending a brick and mortar class?
  • Instructor based – The whole premise that an instructor or whomever is “teaching” the class adds validity I suppose to its value, but it assumes that the professor/instructor will be active (which may or may not be true) and that they are an outstanding educator in the classoom (which may or may not be true)
  • Assignments including suggested readings – Again the courses for the most part are free, who in the heck wants to have assignments/projects or whatever and who wants to go read on their own time. If this course was at the Master’s level or Doctorate (and thus tied to a program) sure understandable, but it is not.
  • Assumption that students will be engaged – Come on, give me a break. When people take classes how many are 100% engaged? Heck you cannot even find that in corporate training classes – online or brick and mortar.
  • If a social learning component exists – the premise that learners will utilize it – again, if I do not use any form of social right now, or use it sparingly what makes you think, I will do so in a MOOC?
  • Extremely rare to receive credit and when you do so, it is not tied to a program to achieve the actual degree. Those who offer credits are credits just for those courses.  So, you get your three credits or however many and then what do you do with that?
  • Some charge a small fee, most are free.  Free is good, but free often comes at a cost. For the fee based – small or otherwise the assumption many see is that fee means higher quality and better – not necessarily true.  If universities begin to offer credits to MOOCs free, it returns back to the previous argument – what do you do with that?
  • If credits turns into a fee based (regardless of the price point), how is this different than attending the university itself, unless you can attend “free” to attain the credits, without any requirements such as an application, etc. – and again, what do you do with the credits? Can you apply them to the university you are attending? Can you apply them to some continuing education program? Can you apply them to your workplace for value? And what if you are doing none of those things? What do you do then?
  • Lack of intrinsic value on the part of the learner. The WIFM (What’s in it for me) applies here – which many people tend to forget. Adult learners, especially those in the workplace, have often an assumption that by taking a course (online or otherwise) will mean something to them back in the workplace. Unless those standards are set to exist, the value to take and complete will fail.
  • You get a certificate. Many MOOCs offer that – but I would argue, big deal. Again, where is the value and benefit to the adult learner, besides hanging it up on their wall or sticking it in their drawer? Can I use the certificate to help me find a job – and will a potential employer see the benefit of it? Especially if the certificate is for something non related to what someone is seeking or doing?  Okay you get a certificate for cultural aspects of museums. Awesome – you can do what with that again?
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