Penn State Associate Professor of English Stuart Selber on MOOCs

Author: Usman Zafar Paracha
Published: June 22, 2013 at 6:48 am

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are online courses with open access through world wide web. Students taking part in such courses participate in online classes and discussions, make notes, and give test and assignments.

Over 450 MOOCs are presently available globally on a range of topics for students, according to Penn State Associate Professor of English Stuart Selber. Coursera and EdX are among some of the famous platforms. There are over 9,500,000 enrollments in Coursera from around 195 countries in 386 courses.

However, experts are debating about the impact of MOOCs on higher education.

"We know a lot about teaching small classes and even large lecture classes," Selber said in a statement. "And we know a lot about creating online courses for the scales we're used to. But the 'massive' part of MOOCs is a new frontier for higher education.”

According to Selber, MOOCs have some pros and cons. Among the disadvantages are, the lack of accreditation, the loss of a customized learning atmosphere and direct teacher-student communication while among the advantages are self-paced learning and convenience, and the appealing tuition price-tag (zero dollars and zero cents).

However, "MOOCs may not be free forever, at least not all of them," Selber cautioned. "People are trying to figure out business models that can support their design and delivery. They're an expensive proposition if approached seriously."

We are not certain about the future of MOOCs but we can expect different forms of MOOCs in the future, Selber said. "That is, these courses won't end up being just one thing. Some will be free, others will charge. Some will offer credit (in various forms); others will provide relatively little feedback and assessment. Some will serve traditional students; others will focus on working professionals or on those interested in enrichment. The types that emerge at any particular school will be a function of larger social, political, and economic contexts."

From Penn State News,

The bottom line, according to Selber, is we should curtail the hysteria about MOOCs destroying or saving the American college campus. And if you have trouble thinking rationally about it, you could always turn to the Duke MOOC, "A Beginner's Guide to Irrational Behavior."

Image source: University of Wisconsin - Madison


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Article Author: Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha has been blogging in science and technology for more than 6 years. He is CEO of Email: Twitter: @jeepakistan

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