Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Economist on the past, present and future of MOOCs

The December 22nd issue of The Economist has an excellent survey article on MOOCs. It begins with England's Open University, which has offered degrees on radio, television and more recently the Internet since 1971, surveys the present and speculates on the future.

We have noted the global nature of MOOCs and the article introduces Futurelearn.com, a newly formed coalition of British universities led by the Open University. It also points out that eight of Coursera's 33 universities are outside the US.

In looking toward the future, the article considers various funding and certification possibilities and includes some provocative quotes:
  • Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor and author of “The Innovative University”, predicts “wholesale bankruptcies” over the next decade among standard universities.
  • Sebastian Thrun of Udacity predicts that in 50 years there will be only ten universities left in the world.
  • A spokesperson from Oxford says that MOOCs “will not prompt it to change anything,” adding that it “does not see them as revolutionary in anything other than scale.”
  • A Cambridge spokesperson says it is “nonsense” to see MOOCs as a rival; [Cambridge] is “not in the business of online education.”
(If Christensen and Thrun are correct, what institutions will pick up the research and service activities of today's universities? Professors do more than teach).

The article covers more -- asking what the implications are for poor people and those in developing nations, whether we will see a two tier education system, how MOOCs will be tested and certified, etc. Check it out for yourself.

#digilit #jiscdiglit #highered #edreform #MOOC #pedagogy #EDUCAUSE #bonkopen