The ‘Hype Cycle’ of MOOC courses

San Jose State University professors recently spoke out against the use of MOOCs.

The backlash from some corners of higher education against the proliferation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) could be an essential step that many other technological innovations had to endure before finding footing in a sector or industry.

In other words, faculty members refusing to adopt MOOC courses and colleges and universities rejecting major MOOC providers is a natural step toward normalization for MOOCs and the companies that host the courses.

Gartner, the information technology research firm, has applied its Hype Cycle graphic to myriad emerging technologies since 1995, using it as a “representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems and exploiting new opportunities.”

From 3D printing to Internet TV to big data, technologies move through a projected cycle, beginning with a “technology trigger,” moving toward a “peak of inflated expectations,” on to a “trough of disillusionment” until the technology reaches a “slope of enlightenment,” and finally, a “plateau of productivity.”

Joshua Kim, director of Learning and Technology for the Master of Health Care Delivery Science program at Dartmouth College, wrote in a May 21 blog post that MOOC technology has already passed the “peak of inflated expectations” and may be in the midst of the “trough of disillusionment,” as MOOC skepticism spreads across higher education despite broad institutional excitement about the courses.

“The concerns of faculty certainly are valid,” Kim wrote. “[A]ny counterweight to the MOOC ‘peak of inflated expectations’ should be welcome. How else will higher ed and online education at scale get to the next steps in a classic evolution[?]”

See Page 2 for how a technology moves through the final two parts of the Hype Cycle.

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