Inside Higher Ed
January 9th, 2015
As the hype around MOOCs has subsided, a frequently asked question in
university circles today is: Who have massive open online courses
helped or hurt?
Providing free and open access to content from revered institutions
is laudable. But enrollments at elite colleges’ MOOCs do not translate
into revenue at the vast majority of colleges and universities, many of
them already cash-strapped. And learning that fails to deliver credit
that leads to a credential may not yield much for students, even if they
enjoy the courses. MOOCs may have been more faddish than altruistic.
For MOOCs to be important long term, they must be more than a curiosity. A 2014 study
from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education
found that only 4 percent of those who had registered for a MOOC
actually completed it. The curious are obviously much less likely to see
a course through to completion than are serious students seeking a
credential to help them advance in their lives.