The truth about MOOCs

President Obama’s recent proposals to make a college education accessible to more people offers a great many ideas. One of those ideas involves ways to expand or use Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), The Huffington Post reports.

MOOCs provide lots of information to a broad audience, but they fall woefully short in ensuring that students are still learning the essentials. Educators must impart knowledge and teach a set of skills students need to succeed in the real world.

The college process that has been successful for 100 years is not just about acquiring an education, but about ensuring that our students develop the skills to enter the workforce.

This was a major point of discussion at a recent American Council on Education conference in Washington, D.C. We need to take heed of the employer who tells our graduates a degree in French Literature may not help in getting a job. A recent survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace said half of all employers surveyed said they had trouble finding qualified recent graduates to fill existing jobs.

Our students need both a good liberal arts education and the foundation to develop core competencies in liberal arts graduates. Moreover, we as educators need a way to measure core competencies in the liberal arts field.

Just providing knowledge and facts is fine, but that’s not what education is all about.

As I see it, there are six pillars of a true, well-rounded education that prepares students for the workforce – or even for graduate school to pursue a higher degree. Not all of these things can be accomplished in the isolation of a MOOC, where there is a lack of interaction among students and teachers.

… As educators, we must realize the ways of learning are rapidly changing and, rather than cling to the old ways of doing things, we must adapt. It should be noted that American Council on Education survey found that just 27% of all students in higher education are enrolled in traditional learning programs.

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