New qualitative research reveals students may know more about MOOCs than institutions think; have doubts on reliability.
MOOCs have the potential to reach learners who otherwise may not have access to postsecondary education, but they have a long way to go in proving reliability of information and quality of content.
That may sound like a researcher or wary administrator’s perspective, but these sentiments are strongly expressed by today’s college students.
In a new qualitative data report, Communication Instructor Dr. Andrew Cole at Waukesha County Technical College and Dr. C. Erik Timmerman, associate professor at the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, reveal the thoughts of one large university’s current college students toward MOOCs.
“Despite the fact that college students presumably would be greatly affected by widespread adoption of MOOCs in higher education, very little attention is paid to current college students’ perceptions and attitudes toward MOOCs,” write the authors. “It is heretofore unclear how familiar college students are with the MOOC concept and how they view MOOCs as a source of learning.”
Another reason the researchers say gauging student perceptions of MOOCs is critical is to try and determine their long-term success.
“Much research into MOOC learners focuses on experiences within MOOC courses. However, students currently enrolled in MOOCs constitute a population of early adopters of a new technology,” note the authors. “For MOOCs to be widely accepted as effective means of education, MOOCs must achieve a critical mass of users to either align with, or overcome, prevalent existing students’ attitudes toward higher education.”
The authors emphasize that, “at a minimum,” efforts to market MOOCs must address the concerns that potential users may raise about this mode of learning.
(Next page: Conducting the survey; survey results)