1.  Takes up faculty time

“We do not want our faculty making commitments that adversely impact on-campus teaching and research,” notes the report, and an important parameter to keep in mind is “the amount of faculty time required to produce a MOOC, and the consequent reduction of time teaching local Cornell courses by these excellent instructors.”

The Committee recommends that “administrative structures must be put in place to manage such conflicting pressures,” and that the current requests for proposals require department chairs to approve the professors’ plans.

“Additionally,” emphasizes the report, ” if MOOCs are derived from especially important and popular on-campus courses, tied to the talents and interests of the instructor, it may be hard to maintain the original courses while also running the MOOC and respecting the instructor’s need for time on research and other tasks.”

2. Expensive to produce

The models for deriving revenue that would sustain MOOCs are untested and could lead to undesirable changes in the higher education landscape, says the report.

“For example, we recommend that Cornell proceed strategically and carefully in considering whether to continue our commitment to edX beyond our two-year contract and, if that contract is extended, how many courses to offer per year. In the short term, we do not anticipate any income from any of Cornell’s first round of MOOCs. Moreover, we estimate that if verified certificates of completion were offered, any fees would fall below the threshold required for edX to share revenue with Cornell.”

3. Not equivalent to the traditional classroom

According to the Committee, “MOOCs do not provide an educational experience that is equivalent to a traditional classroom.”

The report also emphasizes the importance of “prudent educational policy (overseen by the faculty’s Educational Policy Committee). For instance, we recognize the value of the credit given through Cornell’s established online courses, but at this time recommend against giving Cornell credit for MOOCs. We provide discussion of the possible impact of licensing Cornell edX (CornellX) MOOCs for credit elsewhere, a topic that should play a role in future policy deliberations.”

For Cornell’s recommendations concerning MOOCs and diverse distance learning options, as well as more in-depth details on the Committee’s concerns, read the full report.

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