MOOCs: Tearing down the Ivory Tower

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are served up by a variety of companies, organizations and educational institutions, including Coursera, Udemy, Iversity, EdX and many others, Tech News World reports. Together, they’re garnering millions of students from around the world.

People involved in the MOOC business tend to be passionate about what their work means for students and for education.

Anyone who wants an education should be able to get it, Andrew Ng, cofounder and coCEO of Coursera, told TechNewsWorld.

“Online education in general, and MOOCs in particular, hold great potential for higher education,” Hannes Klöpper, managing director of Iversity, told TechNewsWorld. “We strive to unleash this transformative potential.”

MOOCs are an outgrowth of online education that has been offered in various forms by most educational institutions for more than a decade. The difference with MOOCs, however, is a matter of scale. Instead of 30 students taking an online course through a university, millions of students around the world can log in, participate, and in some cases even earn college credit for the course.

“MOOCs are a node in the trajectory of online and open educational resources and as such are not themselves changing the nature of higher education,” Michael Nanfito, executive director of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, told TechNewsWorld.

“It is critical to contextualize consideration of MOOCs in the environment in which they have emerged and are evolving. MOOCs — in all their emerging iterations — will contribute to a pre-existing trend to integrate online technologies into the fabric of higher education.”

Despite their wide accessibility and increasing popularity, MOOCs are not likely to replace traditional classrooms any time soon. Rather, they simply serve different populations and different educational goals.

“MOOCs and traditional classrooms are different,” said Ng. “One advantage of MOOCs is their convenience. Eighty percent of students already have a bachelor’s degree.”

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