Guest blog by:
David Shields, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer
MOOCs and the Future of Education
In last month’s letter, I gave you some information about the current organizations offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Why is the media so excited about them?
Let’s face it, higher education is in crisis. Every year, tuition goes up faster than most paychecks. For public universities, the tuition has to go up even faster than their cost structures, because many states have been forced to cut funding to higher education. In the worst cases, schools are forced to accept fewer students, offer fewer courses and, at the same time, increase tuition by a lot. So, naturally these universities are looking for a way to offer their students more, at lower cost. MOOCs to the rescue?
Led by San Jose State University, the California State University system announced this month that they will be granting course credit for MOOC courses, for a fee of $150 per course. Separately, a company called Academic Partnerships is developing a new program called MOOC2Degree, which will offer free courses as a recruiting tool for a number of major universities. These include the University of Arkansas system, the University of Cincinnati, the University of West Florida, Cleveland State, Florida International, Utah State, and others. The first course will be free, but subsequent courses will cost several hundred dollars per credit hour. Both the free and the paid courses will count toward graduation. But remember: These MOOCs are courses taught by computers; there is no live person at the other end. It’s the ultimate case of “one size fits all.”
Walsh College and many other institutions will continue to offer online instruction with high levels of faculty involvement because we believe that individual attention matters. We will watch and learn as the MOOCs phenomenon continues, incorporating the best parts and avoiding the worst.
Will MOOCs be a magic bullet for higher education? We’ll keep watching the national debate and share what we learn with you.