Losing Ground to MOOCs

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Academia is fighting  Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs and losing.

“Large state universities that adopt MOOCs that have been developed externally will most likely produce substantial, additional revenue from offering the MOOCs to student populations well beyond their currently substantial enrollments,” Martin Kich writes on the Academe blog maintained by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). “In fact, in most instances, those new revenue streams should be substantial enough to offset some losses in their conventional enrollment due to some erosion in their prestige caused by their offering the MOOCs.”

“In sum, their size will insure that they have the technical resources and the name recognition and reach to profit from MOOCs, as well as broad enough curricular offerings to absorb an erosion in the rankings of some of their programs.”  Kich teaches English at Wright State University in Celina, Ohio.

“In pointed contrast, smaller colleges and universities, both public and private, will be damaged fiscally by the spread of MOOCs, regardless of whether or not they try to adopt them,” Kich claims. “Most will have neither the technical resources nor the reputational reach to make their own adoption of MOOCs feasible.”

“And even if their adoption of MOOCs is feasible, it will be very damaging to their prospects since most of these institutions attract students by emphasizing the elements of their physical settings, their histories and cultural milieus, their faculties, instructional innovations, and curricular offerings, and/or the opportunities for extracurricular personal development that make them atypical, if not unique.”

Kick has also run photos of train wrecks in a photo essay entitled “Visual metaphor for MOOCs.”

“Mitchell Duneier once was a MOOC star,” Marc Parry reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “But today he’s more like a conscientious objector.”

“ Worried that the massive open online courses might lead legislators to cut state-university budgets, the Princeton University sociology professor has pulled out of the movement—at least for now.”

Last May, Steve Kolowich reported that “Professors in the philosophy department at San Jose State University are refusing to teach a philosophy course developed by edX, saying they do not want to enable what they see as a push to ‘replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities.’”

“The San Jose State professors also called out Michael Sandel, the Harvard government professor who developed the course for edX, suggesting that professors who develop MOOCs are complicit in how public universities might use them.”

Can it be that MOOCs are the closest thing academia has to a free market?


Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.