#Oped12 The Future of Higher Education and the MOOCs

With thanks to  John Mak for this post:

This talk by Michele Pistone discusses the future of higher education, which has been based on the same educational model for more than 100 years.

But the status quo is about to be disrupted, by the Internet and those educators — including new competitors — who would unleash its potential. Higher education institutions at a whole have not adequately recognized the threat to the status quo, or come close to responding adequately to it. In truth, responding adequately will be very difficult, because higher ed face a classic innovator’s dilemma. (TED video description)

There are many questions that relate to the future of higher education:

1. What would be the future role of Higher Education Institutions and Universities in the global and local communities?

2. What would they do, in times of rapid changes in society and a quest for more responsive to the needs and expectations of the society, government, learners and educators?

3. How would they do it differently?

One of the significant responses to these questions is the MOOC movement, with the introduction of x MOOCs by some of the prestigious Higher Education Institutions and Universities.

Here in an overview of MOOC, a typical MOOC likes Coursera is run based on the following design and delivery

With Coursera, the faculty member developing a course can either record lectures as presented to a class of students, or can make the recording in a studio or other location. The professor can then supplement the video with assessments—like quizzes—that can be automatically graded using Coursera software. The courses also include mastery-building interactive assignments and collaborative online forums. Time commitment varies; courses can range from a few weeks to over two months.

Ray Schroeder elaborates in this post on “how did we get here in the first place” – with MOOC, and what will happen next.  Ray explains that maturing of the internet, the recession that happened a few years ago and the rate of increase in college tuition and fees in recent years have led to the development and demand of such xMOOCs.

He further concludes: “These announcements point to the potential for a radically different higher education marketplace, disrupted by MOOCs. Classes with massive enrollment from a relatively small group of providers may dominate the market for many courses, and perhaps even degree programs. Colleges and universities may become brokers of credentials gathered from many sources, in many formats.”  I think this would soon have a multiplier effect, where more institutions would establish their own MOOCs or join the current MOOCs partnership, in order to be the leaders in this MOOC movement.

In this Schaffhauser, Dian. “Education Leaders See MOOCs, Distance Learning as the Future of Higher Ed.” Campus Technology 20 Aug. 2012. Web.http://campustechnology.com/articles/2012/08/20/education-leaders-see-moocs-distance-learning-as-the-future.aspx

“The overall findings of the survey stated in the form of an equation might be: Today’s tough economy + market dynamics + technological advances = a higher education environment by 2020 in which 1) most people will get at least some of their education in massive open online courses; 2) a fairly large percentage will get all of their education in MOOCs; and 3) only a select few are likely to be able to afford to experience a fully campus-based, face-to-face education,” said principal author Janna Quitney Anderson, director of Imagining the Internet and associate professor in Elon’s School of Communications

I have been wondering how these MOOCs would evolve.  It seems that the current trend of more and more higher education institutions joining in the x MOOCs would likely exhibit the patterns as shown in the figure below, where such disruptive innovations (MOOCs) would soon out-perform the higher education institutions in a number of respects, especially in terms of the number of registrations of the students to MOOCs on a global basis, the attraction of global learners to those higher education institutions, and the branding in an international market, in the adoption of innovations in education and online education.

However, there may be challenges to such xMOOCs when it comes to the quality accreditation (such as those plagiarism and identity problems), and the sustainability of the business models (i.e. how it would be  financed in the long run).  There are also numerous critics on the pedagogy employed in xMOOCs, where concerns are made on the push education model where knowledge is pre-packaged and broadcasted, basically on a knowledge transfer model from the professor to the learners, with machine grading for the assessment.  It seems that there are little ACTUAL interaction between participants and the professor throughout the course, especially when the course participants amounted to tens of thousands.  See my previous post on the merits and demerits of the MOOCs.

In this connection, it may be important to speculate the future of MOOCs using the Product Life Cycle concept.  There are lots of assumptions behind this Product Life Cycle, and that we need more information in order to complete the Cycle.

First, what would be the Product Life Cycle like?

I reckon the current x MOOCs are at the stage of growth, though the business models are still emerging, see this post and this post on the possible models.

Institutions and MOOCs providers would likely refine their MOOCs as more experiences are gained, based on the feedback of the professors and learners, and the findings from the researches.  Also, there would be more intense competition among the different MOOCs providers in showcasing their brands, together with the “travelling” free study groups and free webinars and conferences to further attract new institutions on board and new learners to participate in the courses.  This might take two to three years for the growth to fully develop.

I would speculate that after 2 years of growth, in around 2014, the MOOCs would mature into global platforms where there would be different categories, with x MOOCs, c MOOCs and hybrid c & x MOOCs etc. all building their reputation in a global market.

What would happen next?  What do you think?

Photo credit: this post.