There is no doubt to me that the big buzz right now in education is the MOOC. That stands for Massive Open Online Course. They are a fairly new innovation and yet are creating excitement, or angst depending on who you are.
Some people look at them as the savior of education and some look at them as a waste of resources. Typically ideas like this end up being somewhere in the middle so I’d like to share some of my thinking about their possible significance.
- There will be good MOOCs and bad MOOCs. It’s like TV and movies; content will matter more than anything else. People who like MOOCs will highlight the good ones, people who don’t will do the converse.
- In the Internet age, MOOCs will iterate and evolve quickly. Good ideas will be copied, bad ones will die out. A MOOC in 5 years time will be very different from ones today.
- I still believe that if you want come up with a solution for online learning, a defining characteristic is it has to be global in scope. Interestingly the third world is one of the biggest users of MOOCs. That’s because they have never had access to this kind of knowledge. The effects will start to be felt in about a decade. (see Higher Education For The World)
- The Wright Brothers needed a low weight but powerful engine in order to get their first airplane off the ground. Similarly MOOCs are not a complete solution for a new learning system, it’s only a component to it. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.
- Many traditional tenured faculty are going to have a lot of trouble accepting this new way of teaching. However, that doesn’t matter if their students do accept it. The customer is always right. Adapt or perish.