MOOCs: Why I am confused

Why am I confused about MOOCs? I am confused because we have had online learning since the mid 1990s. We have conducted a million research studies on them, we have tried them, tested them, all colleges have them, etc. But all of a sudden we change their name to MOOCs? What changed? I honestly cannot figure it out. Maybe the way universities would accept credit could change but nothing about learning in the course has. For instance, I was reading this article sent to me by a colleague yesterday and saw something really interesting in the article “Tennessee will run two kinds of courses — traditional and online — side-by-side, and the results will be compared.” I thought wow – didnt we do this 1000 times in 1995? Dont we have a book entitled the no significant difference phenomenon? Havent we tested everything in online courses from comparing them for achievement, looking at social presence, class numbers, workload, time to teach, etc? SO WHY THEN ARE WE REPEATING THESE EXACT SAME EXPERIMENTS? Its not like we have 1 experiment, we literally have 1000s to look through which answers all of these questions. So are MOOCs the future of learning? Here is why I think they are not. 1) Online learning is tried and tested. Completion rates are nearly half that of regular universities. That means on average 60% of students graduate from a normal college who start, around 30% graduate from online universities. Why the high drop out rate? MOTIVATION. Why do MOOCs, who actually have less intructor/student interaction believe that they would improve that? I think motivation will actually be worse. 2) Why would someone pay $1200 for a course that has 5000 students in it vs paying $1200 for a course that has 10 students in it and a dedicated instructor? 3) The biggest scam of all MOOCs – believe that the content designed by leaders in the field is somehow better than the content designed by UoP. Guess what UoP, Walden, etc hire these same people to develop their courses. There isnt a difference. Its no different than using that person’s book in the class. Unless you have them as a professor and have access to them, there is no difference.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for the day. Until I see how MOOCs are any advantage to a student I will continue to think they are just an extension to online learning and soon enough coursera will be another online school that competes with UoP and Walden.

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