MOOCs – Hype or adding value?

For as much hype there has been over the past two years regarding MOOCs, it appears that they are failing to get traction and they are on the decline while online learning is growing.  One of the biggest cheerleaders of MOOCs, Google and Stanford’s Sebastian Thrun, has admitted that his Udacity courses often offer a “lousy product.”  A new report by the Babson Survey Research Group concludes that MOOCs are not sustainable for institutions and will cause confusion about higher-education degrees. The survey was conducted by Babson and the Sloan Consortium and it surveyed chief academic officers at 2,831 institutions.

  •  Only 3% of the institutions are currently offering MOOCs
  • In 2012 26%, and now in 2013 39%, do not believe that MOOCs are sustainable
  • MOOCs made no significant in-roads in the past year in the existing credentialing system thereby calling into question their disruptive nature

At the same time, conventional online courses are more popular than ever

  • More than one-third of students took at least one online course in 2013
  • Although growing more slowly than in recent years, it is predicted that within five years more than half of college students will be taking at least one course online.

There is bound to be some paradox akin 2 sides of the coin. While on one end MOOC’s could be the greatest equalisers, academicians are quick to tone it down indicating that someone has to curate the curriculum ensuring its alignment with specific learning outcomes.  One thing is for sure that MOOC’s are here to stay and we should see a lowering of costs for all kind of courses being offered on a large scale.

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Vision, Mission and Goals

Vision

  • Providing high-quality instruction at very low cost to a multitude of people encompassing atleast 50% of Indian Higher Edu  institutions (34K colleges /645 Universities), 25 % of Vocational Segment as well used as the “tool” for lifelong learning enrichment  by 2020.
  • Essence of Meta University picks up allowing students to take up multiple courses of their interest.  Connects /Touch points created with end beneficiaries via learning hubs for F2F interaction. A financial biz model would emerge for providing these services.

Mission/Goals

  • While MOOC’s will be popular from a viewing/consumption perspective, concept of learning hubs (could be colleges or prep centres too) catering to small  groups would evolve – where community teachers/subject matter experts/domain specialists would assist in clarifying doubts or conduct a discussion or help in taking an assessment in a proctored environment.
  • Conducive Govt. policy where initiatives like NPTEL and NKN made more robust and augmented with content from top faculty and institutions. Uniform guidelines for conduct of MOOC’s for Level 100 (Base Level) across all technical institutions. Irrespective of language, localization and contextualization of content would be feasible
  • Non-traditional entities may begin to offer MOOC’s for people who want to learn a specific subject – example museums on Indology or a World Bank/UNDP like body on Policy Making, etc.  Specialist firms of learning analytics would crop up who would provide inputs to stakeholders on content, learning, pedagogy and assessment.
  • Cross Collaboration of Industry Association/ Sector Skills Council to endorse skills acquired by graduates of MOOCs. Paid models of certification to assess knowledge would materialize and trend towards global alliances with traditional universities.