Recently, I heard about an event at a business school, where MOOCs were discussed. The person I spoke with had attended this – closed – event, and mentioned how the experts had come to the conclusion that currently business schools and their degrees (yes, indeed: MBA) were not really threatened by MOOCs, and that no-one was yet giving out MOOC-based degrees. Oh, and no, it certainly wasn’t going to be the higher education world that was going to disrupt this status quo. The disruptions was going to come from the outside. The tone struck me as if they had added something like “in the distant future”.
Well, I couldn’t agree less. Currently, it seems there is still a big gap between the free education offered through MOOCs, and getting a tangible, old-fashioned (and in many cases expensive) diploma, with the right to call yourself MBA, or MSc. or any other hard-earned title. Don’t get me wrong: if you do the work, you deserve to show it off. But, what is already changing, is that MOOCs are becoming part of that work load.
September has just started, and in many countries, that means schools have started, too. For everybody who has the fortune to attend school, that is, but especially for those who are in their final year of secondary education, and are looking ahead to the next step. For many students, and their parents, this year will be about choosing which college or university to go to or apply for.
Picking the right school to go to, is not the easiest task. There are many factors that can play a role: family tradition, vicinity, place in rankings, job perspective, topics offered and so on. Many, if not all of these, are based on the opinion of others about these school. Maybe the parents have attended themselves, so they have a certain experience and inside knowledge, but much can change between their school years, and next year.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are getting quite the attention. Through platforms like Coursera, edX and Iversity, top class academic institutions are delivering their education for free. And they indeed have massive enrollment. So, it’s no wonder that MOOCs have been billed as disruptors of higher education. They’re opening up higher education to the masses.
However, there has been some critiques. Those showing up are mostly the already educated, and only relatively few complete the courses. Another critique is that some MOOCs are simply putting the off-line courses online. But, it’s still early days. MOOC providers – platforms and schools – are still learning how to best utilize this phenomenon.