2013- the year of ups and downs for the MOOCs

From: Changing Higher Education (Loyd Armstrong)

The biggest thing in higher ed news during 2013 arguably was, as in 2012,  MOOCs. Some of the news was good, some was bad.

Much of the emphasis was on the continuing rise of the MOOCs. Coursera added university partners at a breakneck pace (107 partners), while edX expanded at a more sedate, ivy league pace (30 partners). Both expanded both domestically and globally, seeking out visible and prestigious partners wherever they might be. The English, meanwhile, counterattacked with their own MOOC, FutureLearn, which has 29 ” leading UK and international universities” led by the venerable and highly respected online education expert The Open University. OpenupEd, an EU backed pan-European effort, brings together primarily open universities in the EU. The list of new MOOC providers is now very long, and very international, reflecting an apparently global enthusiasm for courses that enroll many tens of thousands of students.

From my perspective, another very important news item was that MOOC pioneer Udacity has teamed up with Georgia Tech and AT&T to offer a remarkably affordable ($6,600, about 1/6 of the campus-based program) Master of Science in Computer Science from Georgia Tech. This low price master’s from a highly respected institution in the field represents a sharp break from the traditional pricing structure of higher education. If this partnership is able to produces a high quality degree at this price point, it will provide a direct challenge to the online programs of other institutions that almost always are priced comparably to the on-campus programs. Depending on how this venture works out, this could be the first truly disruptive use of the MOOC approach.

Much of the news about the MOOCs was not so positive, however.

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