Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What's next for MOOCs?

When Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) first began, millions of people signed up to watch free video lectures from universities, complete assignments, and earn certificates; MOOCs were expected to reinvent higher education. While some still believe these free online courses can change the traditional college experience, new research on 1.7 million MOOC participants shows these courses didn't grow as expected. Here's what researchers from edX, one of the biggest MOOC platforms ran by Harvard and MIT, found from their participants:
  • In one survey, 39% of users identified as current/former teachers; one-in-five had already taught the subject they were taking a course in. Generally, MOOC participants were already well-educated.
  • There was heavy participation from Greece and Spain - during the period of the study, Greece universities suspended operations and Spain experienced national student protests, possibly causing students to look online for an alternative.
Because MOOCs don't have as many participants as originally expected, educators are beginning to rethink the best possible future for these online courses. Some believe that expanding on-campus applications of MOOCs is a potential answer, while others believe paid certificates for online courses is the way to go. Regardless of what people believe, companies and universities are still creating and supporting MOOCs for millions of people worldwide.

Interested in learning more about MOOCs? Check out the original article, "New Research Shows Free Online Courses Didn't Grow As Expected" by Anya Kamenetz (NPR). Have you taken a MOOC before? What do you predict for the future of MOOCs? Let us know in the comments section!

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