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Massive, open, online courses, or MOOCs, are the future of higher education or the vehicle of its demise, depending on your perspective.
Major corporate funding for the PBS NewsHour is provided by BNSF, Lincoln Financial Group, Fathom and Genentech. Watch videos from your favorite PBS KIDS shows with the PBS KIDS Video app for your tablet or phone. Chris BaumannMassive open online courses (MOOCs) appear to be cheap shortcuts to distribute knowledge and build university brands, but are MOOCs real education? Hari Sreenivasan talks with the man who first created the MOOC, professors who say they undermine the goals of a college education and others who see a way the college classroom and the new online format can be blended. Passport gives you access to a wealth of premium content not previously available online, including full seasons of your favorite shows. Elite institutions such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT offer MOOCs, and less famous providers have jumped onto the bandwagon too.
MOOCs can also be consumed on iTunes, YouTube and TED.While the dissemination of free knowledge is applaudable, the pedagogical merit of MOOCs has been questioned, and now that the education sector faces increasing budget constraints, the return on investment (ROI) for any innovation, including MOOCs, has come in the spotlight of commentators. Return on education investment ROI is best determined against objectives, and objectives fast become political in the field of education. As such both Western and Asian education should lead to personal growth and self-improvement. Student perspective on ROI From a practical student perspective, ROI could be measured in terms of the market value of a degree or any program, including MOOCs.
Tough universities (competitive entry, challenging programs, and high level final exams) are viewed as character building, leading to job-readiness for graduates. But do MOOCs contribute to value on the job market?While MOOCs may be free or very affordable, they often do not contain a formal assessment. Participants may be offered a badge or certificate, but unless the provider is a formal university and there are proper assessments, the market value of such a certificate is not at the same level as a university degree.Crucially, students often undertake tertiary education to benefit from the campus, classroom and learning experiences that cannot be replicated online.


Facts and figures, and knowledge can easily be passed on online, but inspiration, guidance and role models are best passed on in a class room setting. The same applies to networking where students make connections and build friendships for life. Students bypassing universities, focusing on MOOCs, generally lack such interactions and may miss out on developing a healthy competitive spirit.ROI in terms of human factors and development generally fall short for MOOCs in contrast to on-campus education, and it has been argued that studying online goes against human nature. Humans need a "helping hand," a "good and bad cop" that guides and pushes students to achieve stretch goals _ an approach difficult to replicate online yet again. MOOCs only partially develop non-cognitive learning such as emotional and practical intelligence. University perspective on ROI The jury is still out on the ROI of MOOCs from a university perspective. Elite institutions have near endless resources and can easily afford the allocation of development funds for MOOCs and use them as a gesture of goodwill (sharing of information) and teasers for real programs. Educators in the field of online learning have reported that less than half of students access lecture recordings, and a quarter never access online lecture material. Lecture recordings are regularly fast-forwarded through the lecture, jumping five minutes at a time, and listening for bits that may be helpful for a minute or two before skipping the next five minutes. The learning effect is clearly different to on-campus sessions, and universities should be concerned about dropping levels of learning.Resources at mainstream universities are becoming increasingly scarce, yet setting up and maintaining online units such as MOOCS is expensive. While this benefits practitioners that need topical help (rather than a full program degree), IBM conditions its future customer base to use their products, which in turn constitutes IBM's ROI. Other professional education courses too offer a benefit to participants with practical help on "how to," and that sector is likely to grow further. Online units are short and easily digestible such as how to write a business or marketing plan, how to do some financial consolidations or how to use specific software tools.
Future outlook for education MOOCS offered by universities often have a longer timeframe and participants will only be successful if they are self-disciplined; many quit without completing.


This in turn means that on-campus formal university education is not easily replaceable.Money is becoming a key factor in education, however, with Western education increasingly underfunded by government, facing pressure on the international student markets, with temptations to generally relax entry and exit standards.
The future will bring intensified global competition from online providers with their often free, or at least very affordable, programs. How can universities justify charging tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, but at the same time offer MOOCS for free?
There will be an equity issue, and it may trigger action from consumer rights activists and watchdogs.MOOCS and online teaching have a place in the future of education for international and part-time study at the tertiary level, and of course for topical training outside of formal university education. And in times of a "Google society," learners _ and everyday consumers _ are used to retrieving information on demand, as and when they need it. For that type of information, MOOCs indeed appear a useful tool for immediate and non-monitored learning.In times of digital education obsession, however, one should not lose sight of the intrinsic importance of education. In some areas, it is a matter of life and death (pilot training, medicine, nursing, engineering, architecture) or a matter of economic welfare of institutions and economies (business, marketing, management). Who would want to be treated by medical staff entirely trained online; who fly a plane by pilots solely trained online?Scholarly guidance and rigorous testing are an integral part of university education, and such integrity is most credible when tested in person with proper invigilation. But replacing on-campus learning experiences with MOOCS is impossible, economically not feasible (since it is simply a myth that MOOCS are cheap for universities) and ultimately not in the students' learning, economic and career interests.Dr.
Chris Baumann is a senior lecturer at Macquarie University, Sydney, researching competitiveness, education, East Asia and customer loyalty.



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online courses replace teachers



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