If a college takes seriously the challenges offered by disruptive technological innovations in higher education, it has three options:
A. BUILD ONLINE COURSES
B. GIVE CREDIT FOR MOOCs
C. ACQUIRE PROFESSIONALLY-BUILT ONLINE COURSES
We have discussed in previous postings the opportunities, complexities and risks of a school trying to build its own online courses.
MOOCs, particularly when offered through a consortium of universities or through a for-profit firm, are a form of professionally prepared online courses. For schools struggling to respond to the challenge of disruptive technological change in higher education, MOOCs may seem attractive. They are said to be free. They are often prepared by recognized experts and bear the imprimatur of respected universities. They are said to have enormous enrollments which suggest broad acceptance by the learning community.
But there are significant disadvantages. MOOCs vary enormously in quality and presentation. Some MOOCs are not courses at all, but merely collections of course materials. Instruction and assessment of student outcomes vary greatly and in some instances instruction and assessment are not at acceptable levels.
As a school considers giving credit to its students for taking MOOCs, it should evaluate each candidate MOOC against the list of thirteen characteristics of a good online course which we have provided in previous posts. MOOCs which do not provide most of the thirteen characteristics in the list should be rejected as a basis for granting credit toward a degree. Otherwise, the school granting credit is likely to find students frustrated by MOOCs and unable to perform well in evaluations of mastery of the subject.