For Al Jazeera English, I took on MOOCs, or massive open online courses. (Spoiler! Not a fan: )
The best word to describe MOOCs – at least in terms of their capacity to replace traditional education – is “failure”. Most MOOCs have completion rates of under 10 percent. At San Jose State University, a programme to offer course credit for MOOCS from Udacity, a Silicon Valley-based company, was halted when over 50 percent of students failed.
MOOCs have been criticised by education experts who see their impersonal nature as a detriment to student learning. In MOOCs, students usually cannot ask their professors questions and sometimes cannot even receive answers, since MOOCs deliver the same recorded lessons to numerous groups of students. There is little way to prevent cheating or provide individual feedback. Some MOOCs have no assignments or required readings, and nearly all evaluation is done by machines – including the grading of essays.
Critics of MOOCs are often lambasted as Luddites. But it is not the technological aspects of MOOCs that they tend to find troublesome. MOOCs fail because they are massive, not because they are online or open. Students fail MOOCs because MOOCs fail students. They replicate some of the worst aspects of large universities – enormous courses, inaccessibility of professors, absence of mentoring or individual feedback – while capitalising on the desperation of students drowning in debt. MOOCs are not a cure but a symptom of the disease.
Read the full article, When MOOCS profit, who pays? at Al Jazeera English.