Category: MOOCs

Academic expectations for online education have dipped, while the quality and enrollment are still up, according to a new survey, reported by Inside Higher Ed.

The new report, “Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States,” which surveyed more than 4,700 colleges and universities, concludes that the growth of online enrollment is slowing  and that a gulf is widening between institutions that “have” online courses and programs and those that “don’t want” such online courses.

According to Jeff Seaman, co-director of the group that conducted the survey, “I think its better to call them the ‘have’ and the ‘don’t want’ — since the very beginning we have seen a group of institutions for which online was not a good fit (typically smaller schools and many of the traditional liberal arts institutions). This has not changed. What has changed is they now have had a much more negative view about all aspects of online learning (its quality, its value, its role in higher ed, etc.).”

Read more at Inside Higher Ed.


California lawmakers, who are the mirror image of our dysfunctional Congress at the state level,  are hoping to fix the financial and institutional meltdown of its bloated higher ed system by taking advantage of the new free online courses (MOOCs). In other words, the state university system is about to be shaken to its core because it is moving in a self-destructive, friction-producing direction. For higher education to survive, California must start moving in the same direction as private higher ed.

The moral of this story, about to be repeated nationally, is that government education (call it what it is) is fundamentally unsustainable, especially under the current behemoth residential campus and “research” university models. It’s been propped up for sometime now by the federal financial aid system, but with most states broke and federal funds exhausted, state-run, tax-funded higher education is in deep crisis. The “Big One” is coming to California higher ed sooner than later, and the foundations of the state system are so weak they won’t survive even the mildest quake.

The fault line is clear. The CA state system is headed south and draining the state budgets as it goes. Private colleges and universities (both non-profit and for-profit) understand there’s no free lunch and they have responded successfully to ever-changing market forces. The proposed solution being pushed by CA lawmakers is, at its root, an admission–even a confession–that their state-run, tax-funded system is a failure. They must now stop the friction, change direction and start moving in the same direction as the private sector. And that means stop being the socially and economically destructive force government education has become.

See the Chronicle’s report on the California legislative proposal:  California Shifts the Ground Under Higher Education.

Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen applies his famous “disruptive innovation” theory to the latest buzz in higher education–the Massive Open Online Course or MOOC–in a recent Wired magazine article: Beyond the Buzz, Where Are MOOCs Really Going?

Duke University has published a report evaluating its first MOOC course , “Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach.” The detailed report is extremely helpful for seeing how both students and faculty members participated in and evaluated their experiences with this triall MOOC class.  Only 2.5 percent of the whopping 12,000+ students who initially enrolled took the final exam. So for all the buzz and hype and work that went into the course, only a tiny  percentage of students saw it to the end and benefited fully from it.

But this was the university’s first attempt, so where it goes from here is anybody’s guess.

Here’s the full Duke MOOC Report.


The growing popularity–or at least hype–of the so-called Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, may be changing the higher ed landscape and forcing administrators at bricks-and-mortar colleges to ponder the future of their own institutions. According to a recent NY Times article,

“The spread of MOOCs is likely to have wide fallout. Lower-tier colleges, already facing resistance over high tuition, may have trouble convincing students that their courses are worth the price. And some experts voice reservations about how online learning can be assessed and warn of the potential for cheating.”

The challenge lies mostly for voc-tech-oriented colleges and universities where job competency has never been their strong suit.  Those who receive training and skills through other experiences and need but a bit of theory may soon fulfill the dream of the Land Grant universities– Continue reading