Wednesday, 30 January 2013

MOOCs: the greatest threat to education as we know it?

Imagine a university where you could be taught by the pick of the teaching talent from Harvard, MIT, Georgetown, Wellesey, University of Texas and Berkeley.  
Imagine, now that these classes were free.
Imagine that there would be no selection or entrance criteria to get onto any course.
Imagine now that the tuition could take place at your convenience: at a time and place at suited you.
That university would be the popular university in the world.
Welcome to the world the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

A MOOC (as the man from Ronseal would say) "does exactly what it says on the tin":
  1. They are MASSIVE - teachers have the potential to teach 100,000s of students.
  2. They are OPEN - they are free
  3. They are ONLINE
  4. They are COURSES - anD not just resources.

On May 2 2012, MIT and Harvard joined forces to form edX ( a non-profit collaborative project to run courses designed and taught by leading academics from the six top american universities listed above. What is more they have teamed up with Pearson, who have established expertise in examinations (they own EdExcel) and online testing (they are responsible for the UK online driving theory test and the online PTE English language test).

Eric Hellwig, writing on his Harvard Business Review blog (29/01/2013), sums up the impact that MOOCs are likely to have:
"The advent of massively open online classes (MOOCs) is the single most important technological development of the millennium so far. I say this for two main reasons. First, for the enormously transformative impact MOOCs can have on literally billions of people in the world. Second, for the equally disruptive effect MOOCs will inevitably have on the global education industry." 
At present, those completing the courses offered by edX receive a certificate from the institution who is offering the course (e.g. HarvardX) but the courses do not yet carry with them credits to work towards a degree, but this may only be a matter of time. Either way, it is likely that the HarvardX certification will carry some weight as a qualification in its own right-  after all employers are unlikely to turn their nose up to applicants who have completed the MITx course "Introduction to Computer Science and Programming" or BerkleyX's "Software as a Service". As Bill Gates put it: Our whole notion of 'credential', which means you went somewhere for a number of hours, needs to move to where you can prove you have the knowledge."

MOOCs will undoubtedly change the landscape of Higher Education over the next couple of years - the question that I'm asking is: how long before they transform Secondary Education?


No comments:

Post a Comment