The Future of MOOCs
December 21st, 2012 by Alex Wukman
As the year of the massive open online course (MOOC) winds down, educators and commenters have already begun looking to see what the future of MOOCs will look like. While the disruptive potential of the latest idea to take academia by storm is only beginning to be understood, some commenters are already pushing for MOOCs to be expanded. Some believe that the next frontier for MOOCs should be k-12 education, others think that the MOOC movement will begin fracturing and that 2013 will see the emergence of massive open closed courses and more small schools will begin exploring little open online courses. Already MOOCs have begun to reshape the concept of global higher education, and have led to accusations that they are another form of American cultural imperialism, but their real impact has yet to truly be felt. However, some of farsighted people paid to pay attention to the future of higher education have begun getting ideas about what the spread of MOOCs will mean.
The End of the University
The writing is on the wall: the university as we know it has less than 50 years left. Recent reports from Bane & Company, Standard & Poor's, Earnest & Young, and Moody's painted an apocalyptic scenario for higher education. As state financial support continues to decrease U.S. colleges are starting to price themselves out of the market. The tuition increases come despite the fact that one-third of U.S. universities are financially unstable and the spreading realization that the broad-based research university business model is going to be unviable in 10-15 years. Some commenters believe that at least half of the approximately 4,500 colleges in the U.S. will cease to exist within one generation. Other predictions go much farther, arguing that, as massive open online courses (MOOCS) become more prevalent, there might be as few as 10 to 20 universities in the world as soon as 2040.
Rock Star Professors Meet Professor Rock Stars
A fairly simple idea that could revolutionize fine arts education is being kicked-around on the higher education blogosphere, and is already beginning to be implemented in out of the way places, get well-known artists to teach artistic techniques and charge a whole lot of students for the experience. Instead of having a professor teach 15 or 20 creative writing students at an accredited university, get someone like Stephen King to teach fiction writing to 250,000 students at once and charge the students $10 a head for the experience. U.K. based Pearson College is already applying a small scale version of the idea to business education.
Is Accreditation Relevant Anymore?
At a recent meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, a Department of Education subcommittee dedicated to college accreditation, the question was raised as MOOCs have moved into the mainstream and are now, most likely, about to get transfer credit recommendation are accrediting agencies still necessary? The explosion of interest in MOOCs, coupled with the push for alternative credentials like badges and certificates, has some in the tech and manufacturing sectors to see accrediting agencies as dinosaurs unable to adapt to a quickly changing world.
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