Sunday, January 5, 2014

Start the year with a MOOC

So many MOOCs by mksmith23, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License by mksmith23

In my previous post I wondered if we have overrated the impact of MOOCs and that although they have been massively hyped in educational circles they haven't really made a significant impact on the world outside. This sentiment is echoed in an article on Open Culture, 180 MOOCs to Start the New Year (Is This the Crest of the Wave?). They have compiled an excellent list of all the MOOCs starting in the next couple of months but urge readers to make the most of this bounty while it lasts.

If you haven’t tried a free MOOC, I’d do it sooner than later. In recent weeks, the whole MOOC project took a hit when a University of Pennsylvania study found what was becoming empirically obvious — that MOOCs generally have very low participation and completion rates, and what’s more, most of the students taking the courses are “disproportionately educated, male, [and] wealthy,” and from the United States. This study, combined with other disappointing experiments and findings, will likely make universities think twice about sinking money into creating MOOCs (they can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 to develop). It might take another 6-12 months to see the shift. But I’d hazard a guess that this January might be the peak of the free MOOC trend. Enjoy them while they last. Whatever their shortcomings, they can be quite informative, and you can’t beat the price.

Free open education will continue in the form of cMOOCs and initiatives like OER university and Peer 2 Peer University but I share the suspicion that 2014 will see the commercial MOOC consortia starting to roll out new business models. A clearer freemium model will appear with possibly a basic self-service course available for free but with options for support, tutoring, validation and examination available at a price. The venture capital backers of many MOOC initiatives will naturally want to see some return on investment in 2014. It promises to be an interesting year and I suspect we'll see more changes in the educational landscape.

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