Is the Tide Turning on MOOCs (and Other Online Courses)?

Is the tide turning on MOOCs (massive open online courses)? An April 29th Chronicle of Higher Education article explains how, earlier this month, Amherst College turned down an ordinarily coveted invitation to join edX:

Amherst’s rejection of edX, decided by a faculty vote, could mark a new chapter for MOOCs—one in which colleges revert to their default modes of deliberations and caution. “I think we’re at the early stages of that honeymoon period coming to an end,” says Richard Garrett, vice president and principal analyst of the consulting company Eduventures.

Then on April 30th, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Duke University has recently announced that “there will be no credit-bearing online courses at Duke in the near future”:

The university’s Arts & Sciences Council, the governing arm of the undergraduate faculty, voted down a proposal to join a consortium of top colleges offering for-credit online courses through 2U, a company that specializes in real-time, small-format online education.

Perhaps in tension with this decision, Duke still offers MOOCs through Coursera.

Could it be that MOOCs and other online courses are just a passing fad? Or will Amherst College and Duke turn out to be either outliers or just slow adopters? MOOCs can offer the potential benefit of providing education even to those who cannot pay high tuition rates, but can participating universities afford this investment, and can universities that do not participate survive? Should credit be offered for students participating in MOOCs? If not, how should potential employers view MOOC enrollment? These are just some of the questions still swirling, and it’s probably still too early to determine the full panoply of advantages and disadvantages offered by MOOCs and other online courses.

About Meghan Ryan

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