Obama advisers: MOOCs will transform education ‘at all levels’

Obama’s technology advisers implored the president to take a decidedly hands-off approach in the development of MOOCs. Market forces should be left to determine innovation in the MOOC space, the advisory group wrote, without any sort of federal subsidizing of certain MOOC platforms or experimental online education approaches.

“It would also be premature to impose standards and regulations that might impair the power of competitive market forces to motivate innovation,” the advisers wrote. ” The Federal Government can best encourage innovation in this critical sector by letting the market work.”

Many in higher education, including Excelsior College President John Ebersole, have preached caution in the adoption of MOOCs, wary of the courses’ potential for massive — and positive — change.

“It appears the assumption has been made that if the instruction originates with a superstar faculty presenter from a prestigious institution, then of course learning results,” Ebersole said, adding that many “indicators suggest MOOC offerings today are unique forms of entertainment rather than serious vehicles for the advancement of learning.”