Massive Online Open Courses, or MOOCs, are hitting a pretty major turning point right about now. As we get ready for the next school year, MOOCs are receiving a lot of attention—not all of it good, from educators and innovators looking at how higher education will fare over the next few years.
On one hand, San Jose State University, in California, has put a halt on one of their major MOOC initiatives, citing low passing rates as well as technical glitches. And several major voices are now cautioning against the MOOC hype. On the other hand, Georgia Tech is introducing a paid MOOC that will result in a master’s degree in computer science. Add to this the fact that Coursera, one of the largest MOOC providers, just raised $43 million in funding. Also, Blackboard, a leading provider of higher education classroom management software, has decided to enter the field.
We think that the cautions and critiques are probably all part of the process. Education, at every level, is undergoing a fundamental change, and the ultimate methods and tools that are chosen will all be disruptive to some. But online tools have the advantage of rapid iteration, and none of the problems that have come up so far will likely inhibit the growth of MOOCs, or something like MOOCs, for very long.