Tag Archives: disruption

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There is no Open in MOOC

Coursera’s announcement to add Specializations to its roster of educational packages comes with a new price in many cases, as noted in Carl Straumsheim’s 1/29 piece at Inside Higher Ed.

To sign up for Michigan State University’s How to Start Your Own Business, for example, budding entrepreneurs have to pay $79 up front for the first of five courses in the Specialization or prepay $474 for the entire program.

When enrolling in a MOOC on Coursera, learners are normally met with a box asking them if they would like to take it free — giving them access to all the course materials but not awarding a certificate upon completion — or pay $49 for an identity-verified course certificate provided upon completion. Learners can first pick the free option but change their minds later, however.

The question the article asks — how does charging for access fit the mission of access to world’s best education — is a variation on a question that’s been asked for 4+ years now, ever since Coursera, Udacity, edX and others became the go-to mainstream voices on EdTech expertise — what makes these providers the world’s best education besides a mission statement and a platform for PR?  David Wiley’s quote from 2013 is the touchstone I remember from that period — MOOC as a concept, to him, was out of the barn and the acronym rather stood for Massively Obfuscated Opportunities for Cash. Continue reading

The MOOC revolution did not take place.

The din of the MOOC world continues unabated, vacillating between the MOOC continuing its march toward Valhalla and the MOOC as a dying revolution in need of last rites.  The multiple personality disorder of MOOC coverage is most evident in last week’s tech-business articles about MOOC company Udaicty. Upstart Business Journal last week wondered aloud if the MOOC was dying, asking the question whether Sebastian Thrun could save the MOOC.  Here, we learn that Thrun recently left Google to focus full-time on Udacity (similar to the FastCompany report from 11/13 on him leaving Stanford to focus full-time on Udacity), as potentially a last-ditch effort to save the MOOC.  This is echoed in a TechCrunch blog from earlier in September entitled The MOOC Revolution that Wasn’t.  Yet on the same day Upstart ran their open question, both EdSurge and Venture Beat heralded a recent $35M investment in Udacity from venture capital firms such as tech-based Drive Capital.  The tenor of these articles, it should be said, lacks the same globalize and democratize education ballyhoo from articles in 2012 and 2013.  That said, none of these articles have given up on the MOOC as an instrument of educational change.

What about other MOOC providers?  edX’s Anant Agarwal was profiled in Wired Magazine the same week as the Udacity news:

The way [Agarwal] sees it, effective uses of the MOOC model are only beginning to take shape. Enrollment in edX courses has doubled over last year, and he believes we’re on the verge of an era he calls MOOC 2.0. “We’ve been growing as others are throwing in the towel,” he says of edX.

There is lot to take issue with in this quote, and the article in whole.  What MOOC providers are throwing in the towel?  Certainly not Udacity, Coursera, edX or Canvas.  Also, Agarwal’s use of MOOC 2.0 is symptomatic of the ahistorical nature of most EdTech Mavericks; it marks at least the sixth time someone has used MOOC 2.0 to talk about the future, and fails to note that Cathy Sandeen of the American Council on Education invoked MOOC 3.0…15 months ago. Continue reading