Massive Open Online Courses Essay

2958 words - 12 pages

Introduction to MOOCs
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, have recently come into the public eye as a topic of interest. Whether as an alternative to traditional education, a way to enhance skills in the work-place, or as a way to make education freely available to everyone, many teachers, institutions and students are currently participating in MOOCs. However, as with any new technology, MOOCs are not yet fully understood, in terms of their impact, quality, and effectiveness. In this vein, the MOOCs have the potential to change the face of education, and how teaching is done, but at what cost, or at what benefit? To analyze this phenomenon from the perspective of work and the education industry, the question becomes whether or not the shift from the traditional classroom to the Virtual Workplace, in the form of MOOCs, increases the efficiency and impact that teachers can have. This question will be addressed through considering how MOOCs affect teacher’s ability at their job: the Reach and Cost of these programs, the Quality of teaching that can be passed on, and how MOOCs affect teachers and the institutions that promote them.
Reach and Cost
One of the most important characteristics of a MOOC is its size, and by connection, its cost. Because MOOCs are based on a scalable internet platform, they are greatly increase the availability of their course without increasing the cost. By moving to the virtual workplace, individual teachers are able to reach tens of thousands of students at virtually no cost to the student [1]–[4]. However, as Postman said, “All technological change is a trade-off” [5]. This section will discuss the advantages and disadvantages directly related to teaching a course at the large scale that is common among MOOCs.
The cost of education is a very important to society and a key factor when students are choosing where they will obtain their education. The average full-time student in the USA will pay $400/course [6] while MOOCs are generally free [7]. The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) surveyed 192,912 full-time first year students and the results showed that 67% percent of students believe their choice of college was significantly affected by current economic conditions [8]. The same survey showed that while 77% of first year students were accepted into their first-choice school, only 59% of the students were attending that school. The importance of cost is also mirrored by a survey of MOOC students in which 75% of students cited the courses being free as a reason they enrolled [9]. Cost is clearly a very important component of education. Through the use of the virtual workplace, these costs can be greatly reduced for the students.
While increasing the class size reduces the cost, it also escalates the problems associated with grading. With the large number of students, there are only two options for grading: automatic grading or peer grading. When the teachers of MOOCs were surveyed, almost 70% found the...

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