I have been having conversations on LinkedIn and Quora here lately about MOOCs and been putting much thought into their future and how to even compare them with current Higher Ed course offerings, both online and brick and mortar (see How will MOOCs change education at universities? http://shrd.by/CMcr8w ).
I think this is still a road ahead for MOOCs and I do think it will change education at universities. But how is the question. In theory they could be free university education for everyone in the world. Everyone could have a free education from Harvard. Universities could also educate an audience on a massive scale! No more need for buildings and classrooms. Faculty could just teach millions from their homes in their pajamas! Yes. This is just a verbose theory.
While I say that, I do believe in a world where we all are involved in learning in MOOCs just as much as we check our emails. I am about to start one in March, Gamification Design [ https://iversity.org/courses/gamification-design ] and Technology and the Future: Managing Change and Innovation [ https://www.canvas.net/courses/technology-and-the-future ] in April.
Yes. Completion rates are low when comparing MOOC to traditional and online classes at a university. The point being is that they are not the same and they shouldn’t be compared. The learner has different expectations for learning when taking a MOOC and so should the institution in terms of what they expect from students. A great comparison to the experience in a MOOC to something else that many of us use and not complete is a newspaper. But the lower completion rates of newspapers don’t cause us to say that they are failing? And who reads their newspaper online now BTW? (I had to make that comparison 🙂
So we cannot apply traditional measures when evaluating a MOOC. What if the measures were the same but the goals were different? A MOOC to certify a counselors would be a very scary thing. A MOOC to introduce student’s counseling/psychology topics sounds fun. What if the goal of MOOC was to get X% of the enrolled students to interact with each other (to a certain level of standard), X% participate in a survey, and have X% decide to enroll in a for credit program at the hosting university?
Once we determine how to truly compare MOOCs with other course offerings at a university, then we can see how it will impact, change, stop, improve, etc. education at universities. Until then, all we are doing is just rambling.