MOOC watch: Scale and openness disputed

The head of Stanford University, an institution whose academics led the current revolution in online education, has questioned whether MOOCs are able to ­effectively teach large numbers of students with open access to the courses, Financial Review reports. ­

Stanford president John Hennessy told the Financial Times that most people taking high level, open online courses were “not ready for the material at the same level” as the brightest participants.

He said MOOCs had a role, such as for “the person in Mongolia who is . . . the great brain, who’s ready to move ahead on their own and simply can’t get the course anywhere in Mongolia”. However, he said one drawback which stemmed from the large numbers of students enrolled in MOOCs was that the automatic grading ­software to give “rigorous, challenging exams” to all students did not exist. “Two words are wrong in MOOC: massive and open,” Hennessy said.

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