The #MOOC Thing

I’m simply bemused. Not only are MOOCs crouching in the wings, threatening to destroy the mass-university system we have spent a century building as the capstone of our education systems. But key leaders within that system are embarking on behavior as hazardous as it comes. While entirely failing to see what lies in their future (the laying waste of all they know) they are engaged in speeding the process. It is not exactly the deer transfixed in the headlights. It is the deer rushing toward the car.

Let’s be clear. There is absolutely nothing that the massed ranks of higher educators can do to prevent what is afoot. But what they should be doing is thinking and acting strategically to engage the entire re-making of the universe of post-secondary education. Instead they are dallying, toying with it, offering sample MOOC-type courses. As if the global flood could be forestalled by the digging of ponds.

Here’s some very interesting data from one university that has been experimenting, neatly summarized by someone who has been carefully tracking the discussion.

And by the way: I am by no means uncritical of the likely impacts of MOOCs on higher ed, though they will lead to huge benefits for those who would otherwise get none of it – among other things. But the economics of AI-delivered education are unstoppable and global. The combination of ridiculous inflation in the cost of U.S. colleges, and the move of the UK to a fee-based system, will ensure their swift triumph in the Anglo-American world.

While I am at it – as I have asked before – when does USAID or some similar agency (or the Gates Foundation?) launch a full free undergraduate degree program – initially for Africa and other parts of the world? Of course, the moment it does the market for over-priced U.S. degrees will collapse.

Um, innovation is afoot . . . .And guess what, it’s disruptive. Hugely so.

 

Donald Clark Plan B: Report on 6 MOOCs turns up 10 surprises.

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