Where Do MOOCs Fit In Higher Education?

Career College Central summary:

  • University faculty members from across the country continued an attack on massive open online courses with a video and group of letters sent to three leading online education providers, claiming the companies overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to the types of students they claim to serve.
  • The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education last week sent letters to the leaders of Coursera, Udacity and edX saying the claims the companies made about online higher education are "overblown, misleading, or simply false." In an accompanying video released Tuesday, the coalition of faculty leaders questions whether online education providers are adequately serving student populations they have claimed to help in the past, such as those in rural communities and underdeveloped countries.
  • "Let us be clear: we appreciate the role that technology can play in improving the education of our students. In fact, as college educators, we all use educational technology every day; and many of us have created online learning tools for our students," the letters read. "We value these tools, and we want them to be used judiciously in our teaching. But these tools are simply not the panacea you claim them to be."
  • It's not the first time the group has taken issue with the practices of online education providers. Last October, the organization released a series of three papers questioning the influence of private funds in higher education. One paper claimed private companies are motivated to venture into online education not to expand access, but to expand their bottom lines. A second questioned the cost-saving promises of online education and the third claimed online courses actually block access for some students.
  • "The excitement that equates any innovation with the capacity to be a silver bullet and solve all of our problems is just a huge concern of ours," Lillian Taiz, a professor at California State University, Los Angeles and president of the California Faculty Association, says regarding the CFHE campaign. "[We] really felt we had to get into this conversation to try and bring people out of wonderland and into reality, where the truth is you don’t get something of value unless you do it thoughtfully."

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