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 →
There’s a lot of hype about MOOCs (and when I put hype and MOOC together, I mean xMOOC), and with the hype comes a resistance from ed tech folks. The arguments go something like this: hype machine says MOOCs are the next big thing and the best thing to happen in ages, and resistance says MOOCs aren’t great, aren’t new, and aren’t making things better. A prime example comes from some hype dished up by the MIT Technology Review entitled The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years, countered by D’Arcy Norman’s terse reply whose tag line involves fertilizer. What we forget when we enter a point-counterpoint frame of mind is that both points of view come from ideologies and histories that result in the digital artifacts I have linked to. Studying those artifacts to find the encampment inferences and foundations can help us see the positives and negatives of both sides rather than following one full throttle. Continue reading →