The real value of MOOCs, she said, is that they can act as a catalyst for conversations on what teaching and learning requires of instructors and students.

“It’s not MOOCs or,” Zvarcek said. “It’s MOOCs and.”

Similarly, Adam Wandt, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that MOOCs can encourage educators to raise the bar for online learning.

Unlike a failed face-to-face course that would result in some anonymous bad course evaluations, a MOOC happens completely in the public eye, with thousands of students watching it succeed — or crash and burn.

“It’s so publicly available, that it can’t be a failure for my college,” Wandt said.

The panelists agreed that the conversation about MOOCs should remain on improving the online courses, from instructional methods to student success and retention rates.


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