MOOC mania: when technology and higher education collide

The idea of free online courses has not only attracted students – the low-overheads high-volume model of delivery has inevitably also caught the attention of policy-makers concerned about the increasing costs of higher education, Public Service Europe reports. The last year of higher education has been the year of the Massive Open Online Course or ‘MOOC’. The arrival of the MOOC onto the higher education scene has happened at a pace and with a profile that is not usually associated with pedagogical innovations. The extent of this interest and the innovations at the core of MOOCs have demanded that institutional leaders – and policy-makers – think carefully about what lessons they should heed to be on the right side of what could be the sector’s digital moment. For the uninitiated – the term describes courses that are delivered online in a way that largely strips out personalised academic support for students. By doing this a course can be provided to an unlimited number of students online. The fact that it is free to students makes it exciting for anyone with an interest in widening access to education.

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