Lots of MOOC Buzz in @timeshighered

MOOC’s (Massive Online Open Course) is a word being bandied around in higher education more and more over the last couple of years:

Moocs are already big – in reach and in hype – and are predicted to explode. Zoë Corbyn checks in to learn if they are more than just a novelty and to find out what it’s like to teach a class of 38,000

Kristin Sainani, clinical assistant professor in health policy at Stanford University, has just finished teaching her most popular course ever.

But its popularity was far beyond the scale of a class of several hundred students, with seminar rooms and lecture theatres bursting at the seams. The take-up was off the charts. More than 38,000 students scattered across the globe signed up to take her online course, “Writing in the Sciences”, which aims to help scientists become better writers.

Over eight weeks, the students took part via short online video lectures, discussion forums, automated quizzes and assignments graded by peers. The online-only course, which is based on the postgraduate course that Sainani teaches in the traditional manner in person at Stanford, was delivered under the banner of Coursera, a start-up company based in nearby Silicon Valley, which hands out certificates to students who complete.

Read full story, but see commentary elsewhere by Andy Oram.

See the editorial leader: “Enter the disruptive dragon“. In the US there’s rising confidence in online courses.


Online Courses?

Are online courses a step in the right direction? for whom?

While elite universities in the US and Europe may benefit financially from the emergence of online courses, smaller institutions and for-profit education companies could find themselves squeezed out, a report has claimed.

According to Shifting Ground: Technology Begins to Alter Centuries-Old Business Model for Universities, produced by credit rating agency Moody’s, the recent rush by leading universities to create collaborative networks offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) is a pivotal moment for the sector. Such networks include Coursera (co-founded by two Stanford University professors and now with several institutions on board) and edX, a collaboration between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Read full story.