One of the longstanding questions around the MOOC movement is financial: there is a great deal of venture capital locked up in Coursera, edX and Udacity, but none of these organizations have provided a methodology of ROI for its benefactors, choosing instead to focus on heartwarming anecdotes about the potential of global education (quick tangent — Aaron Bady has a great takedown of the MOOCmania over here, where he challenges Clay Shirky’s most recent article and pinpoints the MOOC hysteria as an easy mark, where MOOC can stand for any potential and the current system for all failings). While philanthropy is not lost on MOOCs, venture capital is not traditionally so gregarious with its investments, so a way to pay back the investors must emerge. And here is where speculation begins in a rampant earnestness (my favorite part of this article is where Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller nonchalantly focuses on scalability…reminds me of the SNL sketch for the Bank of Change where the CEO says his bank [that deals wholly in making exact change] turns a profit based on volume).
One of the common citations in xMOOC artifacts and discussion is the idea of xMOOC as a disruptive technology. The concept, developed by Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen, is tossed into discussion as if it’s vital reading I should already know…none of the authors do more than give a cursory definition to the concept in abstract fashion rather than concrete, and in all of the articles I have read, I don’t see consensus on the definition. This makes me think several possibilities: 1) this is a concept so integral to this field that I should know all about it and am an idiot for not having a foundational knowledge, or 2) this is a concept not fully understood but thrown out there in a way that sounds erudite but lacks foundation. I think it’s a mix of both. As a learner struggling to grasp a topic (my background is in both media and social sciences, not business), the best way is to personally dive in rather than rely on the previews of others. At the same time, it took those previews to get here, so perhaps this review can help others start to nail out a more complete definition on the topic. Continue reading
From the Chronicle for Higher Education this morning, an American university offering credit for a MOOC course:
In order to earn the three transfer credits toward their bachelor’s degrees at Colorado State, students will need a “certificate of accomplishment” from Udacity showing they passed the course. Then they have to pass a proctored examination offered by Udacity through a secure testing center. The exam, administered by the Pearson VUE testing group, will cost $89.
The university at the heart of this is Colorado State’s Global Campus, an entirely online institution which the article notes is a spin-off from CSU and holds a separate accreditation. The president of CSU Global Campus, Becky Takeda-Tinker, cited affordability and accessibility as key reasons for considering the MOOC offering. David Evans, the instructor for the Intro to Computer Science course via Udacity, notes such acceptance is “…recognizing that students really can learn well in online courses that are structured in the right way and have the rigor traditional universities expect.”