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  • Wait and Watch approach is the best as far as MOOCs are concerned
  • Posted By:
  • Chris J
  • Posted On:
  • 26-Feb-2013
  • Looking at recent activities in the higher education scenario, it is evident that one of the major changes set to transform the higher education scenario is MOOC or Massive Open Online Courses.
    There is a strong hint by our president in the recent State of Union policy agenda that federal aid would be given for eligible students taking online courses.

    There is also a proposal for college accreditation overhauling and this could allow MOOCs to accept federal money by charging tuition. Higher education platform will become highly competitive and hopefully this will fuel a healthy improvement in quality.

    The downside to all this is that even before they have enough time to mature, MOOCs will be driven into being subsidy conscious. This could severely hamper any innovations and experimentations that could further lead to development of effective, good education models.

    As of now, MOOC is just a niche service. It is definitely important to wait till this segment grows to a considerable extent, enough to address the fundamental economic problem facing higher education in our country, before giving them any federal aid. Our government must wait for feedback from professors and labor-intensive attention cost.

    Intellectual, smart go-getters form Silicon Valley are no doubt very excited about how these online courses are going to benefit them, especially since they are economically and geographically under-privileged. It is not however clear as of now whether MOOC could bring about a huge transformation, enough to make it an alternative to regular classroom studies.

    So, who are looking forward to online learning the most today? It is evident that primary online learners now include those who are hankering for intellectual stimulation and those who wish to enhance their job related credentials and skills. These are motivated segments that cannot actually attend a regular college.

    For traditional students, colleges still hold a special place where professors constantly monitor them and make sure they attend college regularly and do their exercises. Only the highly motivated class, as of now, can benefit from the cheaper MOOC alternative where students help other students learn.
    Feedback from teachers is still very crucial for most students. By feedback we mean comments on papers, questions asked during discussions in the classrooms and red-pencil grading.

    There is no denying the importance of the job of grading which is albeit time consuming, demoralizing and tedious. Many use the multiple-choice, machine-graded exams. In the MOOCs, this kind of grading could only give students their results. It cannot tell them what and how they need to improve upon to fare better. Feedback is a very important aspect that hones critical thinking skills in students.

    Another disturbing trend in MOOCs is this platform’s intolerance towards demanding and conscientious teachers. There is no doubt that many online platforms will emerge in the coming years offering education for aspiring students. It is important to wait and watch how the scenario develops after the initial trial and errors. Before we find out whether they will actually do well, it is not advisable to bring in federal aid into MOOCs.


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