MOOC – Setup for Failure?

  • e-learning, Massive Online Open Courses, MOOC
  • asychronous based learning, e-learning, free online courses, higher education e-learning, higher education learning, higher education online courses, Massive Online Open Courses, MOOC, MOOCs, synchronous based learning

Unless you have been like Rip Van Winkle for the past few years, you are well aware of the latest rage in online education – MOOC.

Massive Online Open Courses – better known as MOOC – are big – in terms of courses, end users and online learning.

But the premise is not living up to its potential – and it is not due to the content – rather it is due to an inherent flaw that exists in e-learning in the higher education setting – synchronous based.

What are MOOCs?

As the term applies, MOOCs are massive online open courses.

  • Originally coined by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island in 2008
  • Learners can be located anywhere in the world and as such thousands to hundreds of thousands may be taking at least one course simultaneously
  • Instructors (or professors or whomever) engage (at least in theory) with learners at some level – either via a discussion board, forum, chats, e-mail, etc.
  • Similar to a degree like the classroom setting but online, whereas the online classes start at a specific date, have a length period and a end date
  • Often contains some level of social learning – but not always
  • Free (at least for now, although some have a small fee)
  • While the initial premise was that MOOCs could not earn course credit, this is changing
  • Courses come from a variety of universities, colleges – including some of the biggest names out there – MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Duke
  • Partnerships with companies such as Coursera, whereas courses come from 33 universities – i.e. one stop shop
  • Ability to locate courses via free course aggregators/directories/lists online

Completion Rates

I’d argue that completion rates are the one of the biggest sticking points to MOOCs. Based on conversations I have had with numerous people including those who have taken or are taking MOOCs the rates are dismal. Katy Jordan, a doctorate student from Open University, has conducted research and found less completion rates at less than seven percent.  She has an outstanding site on this information regarding the data.

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