Salon has an article up, aggregating information from a number of different news sources, about MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and their role in education moving forward. It’s a pretty divisive article that suggests that most of the effort in playing up MOOCs is coming from the profit-motivated desires of certain companies, like Coursera and Udacity.
For most people out there, what’s really important is whether or not MOOCs are useful. Do they serve students well? Do they solve the problems that students are likely to face?
According to the Salon article, the answer is “No.” Salon purports that the crisis students are actually facing isn’t getting into college or courses, but staying in college. Entrance rates are very high, Salon says, while graduation rates are low. The article goes into much greater depth about the issue, including talking about why the writer thinks this is happening in the first place, and what a second paradoxical problem of MOOCs might be. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone looking into MOOCs and online education, because it will keep you alert as to some of the most important facts about what’s going on in that world.
So what does all this mean for you, though? Well, that’s up to you. There are some out there who think that MOOCs are going to replace major functions of traditional college and university, especially as the technologies for online education become ever more advanced. There are others (such as Christian Exoo and Calvin F. Exoo, the writers of the Salon article) who believe that MOOCs are not going to solve the problems that face us, and are ultimately going to be more harmful to more students than helpful. So when it comes down to you and your education, you need to consider what makes the most sense.
Do you think a given MOOC will supplement or improve your education? Do you think you’ll be able to stick with the course until the end? Have you explored all the options available to you? Have you investigated the MOOC to make sure that it’s worthwhile? For any given MOOC, it’s going to be difficult to come up with wide-spread answers, but if you take a look at these questions and apply them to yourself, you’ll have at least some idea of whether or not that MOOC is right for you.