MOOCenomics – “the inputs of education trump the outputs of education”

Great insight in David Touve’s Inside Higher Ed article looking at the contradictions of the MOOC world, namely in the difference between taking coursework from a MOOC-affiliated institution and receiving a degree from such a place (while Touve’s examples come from what we would call xMOOCs, cMOOCs are not transient for credit at other institutions).  Touve looks at it like a syllogism:  If MOOCs such as edX stress the rigor of their courses is on par with those offered by affiliated institutions, but if edX only offers a certificate and offers no credit toward a degree, then the most important variable in receiving a degree is getting into the school, or what you do prior to engaging in the coursework.  From Touve, the inputs of education trump the outputs of education.  Touve, a business professor at Washington and Lee, chooses to look at more institutional variables from this equation, namely what it means for education from the institutional POV if students in a Coursera MOOC who ace the final exam are not registered or affiliated with the university offering the course.  There is an economic aspect to this as well, at least in the here and now:  the socioeconomic breakdown of xMOOC affiliated schools is high-end heavy, while MOOCs are sold as a method of educational access for all (granted all have access to a computer and high-speed Internet).  Are we about to see a seismic shift in the value of degrees, or will the learning gleamed from taking a MOOC have to suffice for those who are unable (for whatever reason) to enjoy university enrollment?

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