Are MOOCs Taking Over Online Learning?

Yes and no. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are a brilliant way to draw in a large group of students into a broad or interesting topic. Some of the best examples started with universities like Stanford and Brown University offering courses through Coursera. It continued to expand with other non-credit options being offered directly from the school, such as MIT OpenCourseWare. Now, over forty public universities have joined to create MOOC2Degree. MOOC2Degree is built to help students understand the value of an online education. "While the number of online education opportunities continues to grow at an incredible pace, there are still many adults who are apprehensive about the experience and demands of learning online," said Phil Regier of Arizona State University Online. "We want people to experience what a high-quality online course is really about, with all the academic rigor, interactions and opportunities we provide." Plus, these courses come with full class credits. So, yes, it is taking over.

However, those who pass their MOOC are expected to pay tuition for the rest of the classes needed to reach a degree. In this new format, which spans from the University of Cincinnati to Arizona State University, the MOOC will become a part of the degree program, rather than an alternate to it. As stated in a New York Times Article, “If MOOC2Degree succeeds in attracting thousands of degree students, the new revenue stream could be a lifeline for public universities hit hard by declining financial support from states.” These universities aren’t using MOOCs to replace courses, they are using it as a recruiting tool, and it makes sense. Randy Best, the chairman of Academic Partnerships, a company that helps public universities move their courses online stated, “We started it, frankly, as a campaign to grow enrollment, but 72 to 84 percent of those who did the first course came back and paid to take the second course.” The school can now test out students through a single class to allow enrollment for the best, while students can sample online learning and course materials with no financial commitment.

So, in the end, MOOCs are not taking over online learning, but they may become an integral part of the learning process in higher education.



Written by: Travis Taggart
Travis is a regular contributor to the Ashford University blog.

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