What Do MOOCs Mean for Traditional Education?

A few days ago we talked about the proliferation of online courses in today’s society, mainly massive open online courses (MOOCs).  The emergence of massive open online courses has unquestionably changed the face of education. Aiming to provide interested learners with something they never thought possible– accessible, unlimited, and free learning, MOOCs have somewhat threatened or put the traditional system of education to the test. In what ways are massive open online courses bound to shape the character of education system in the near future? And how will traditional education likely to evolve under a fast-paced development of new technologies?

1) MOOCs challenge the traditional practice.

The phenomenal success of MOOCs in as far as drawing people into it is concerned is undeniable. This challenges leaders at the traditional system of education who, with the realization of MOOCs’ benefits in terms of making education more affordable and flexible, may inevitably seek for ways to collaborate with providers and MOOCs advocates in the future.

One of the most exciting benefits of MOOCs over traditional learning is the great opportunity for students to experience elite learning that only few selected ones are able to experience under normal circumstances. This alone can excite anyone who wishes to get a taste of the expensive and highly selective education for free. Also, the content in MOOCs can be accessed anytime, in multiple usages. This is highly beneficial in the learning process especially of students who are not that academically adept. The learner can always go and watch the video again and again until he finally gets a good grasp of what it’s conveying.

2) Traditional colleges and universities may experience a drop in revenues.

Because of the affordability of MOOC learning, students can choose to enroll at virtually any institution, just as long as it honors MOOC credits. There are now institutions that allow students to transfer the credits they have earned from a MOOC-based program outside of that institution to a degree from an accredited college or university. Examples of these institutions are the Global Campus of Colorado State University, San Jose State University, Antioch University, and Georgia State University. If institutions decide to accept credits that students have earned from MOOCs, this will have a negative implication on college’s revenues. In addition, traditional universities have to determine how to evaluate quality and equivalency of the courses taken through MOOCs. Such undertaking will be an added concern to administrators and academic faculty as well as costs to its operations.

3) MOOCs are a work in progress as far as replacing traditional institutions is concerned.

It is noted that apart from the use of accessible video streaming, discussion boards, and email, MOOCs do not actually provide cutting edge pedagogies. The difficulty of instructor-student interaction is often cited as one of the major pitfalls of MOOCs simply because of the fact that it would be extremely challenging to handle the huge number of learners. Also, parents will remain reluctant to provide purely digital learning to their children, in the same way that academicians will continue to rely upon the traditional system combined with online education to come up with improved higher education systems. Only a minimal share of 28 percent of chief academic staff believes that MOOCs are a sustainable way, as noted by a survey conducted by Babson Research Group.

One of the most important obstacles faced by advocates and supporters of MOOCs is quality. This is because the current course models in MOOCs cater more to autodidacts than ordinary learners and novices. Therefore, it is still very important to be in an education system that effectively adapts to each learner’s individual learning needs. For instance, a novice learner may not necessarily need to listen to the video lecture of an esteemed university lecturer to fully grasp the lessons at hand but rather from one who can teach in a manner that he can easily comprehend. This quality issue causes decision makers’ skepticism about the quality of education offered by MOOCs. And such is the reason why these courses are focusing on improving the quality of education so they can get a chance at securing their credibility.

4) MOOCs are an attractive tool for the traditional system.

The fast-paced development of technologies has had great influence on traditional education system. With that, MOOCs are likely to be assimilated as a tool in distance learning.  The technologies that are currently being scaled up include digitization of textbooks, adaptive learning software, and software that can be used in gaming and in assessing essays through rubrics. Although it is seen that elite universities will remain steadfast in terms of their selectivity and content, MOOCs will prove to be useful tools in producing better-quality, higher-caliber graduates.

5) MOOCs potentially help fundraising activities of traditional institutions.

MOOCs are highly instrumental for raising funds for the traditional institution’s use. There may be donors who want to access the works of famous professors. They can sponsor the setup of such technology. Furthermore, MOOCs can also be utilized in marketing strategies by providing a taste of what the institutions can offer through the form of an academic teaser. Students can then be enticed into taking the course offerings of that academic institution. These new technologies beckon not to only students but also to young faculty members.

With their affordable and flexible approach, MOOCs are truly a godsend to students who want to pursue college education but are not financially equipped to do so. They have indeed done a phenomenal job at changing people’s long-enduring perception of education–costly and almost inaccessible.

The support that this new system gets from affluent individuals, like Bill Gates, only adds to its potential in reshaping the education landscape today and in the immediate future.  In fact, more and more institutions have begun to embrace MOOCs in the traditional system, and this is an indication that this promising and revolutionary method will be around in the next decade or so. And although MOOCs may never be effective enough to replace the traditional education system, they can very well complement it, so as to achieve a more effective and less costly provision of education.

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