Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Massive online open classrooms not yet meeting high expectations, new study finds

Date:
May 15, 2014
Source:
Columbia University, Teachers College
Summary:
A new, comprehensive study finds that Massive Online Open Classrooms, or MOOCs, so far are not meeting their goals of broadening access to education, enhancing providers' brand name and visibility, or providing a cost-effective way of improving educational outcomes.

The rollout of MOOCs, or massive open online courses, three years ago by some of the country's leading universities triggered predictions that bricks-and-mortar campuses would soon be obsolete and that learning would be forever changed.

Well, maybe -- but not any time soon, according to one of the first comprehensive studies of MOOCs from the perspective of institutions, released on May 15 by researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University. The study is based on 83 interviews with faculty members, administrators, researchers, and other actors in the MOOC space from 62 institutions, mostly in the U.S. It includes 13 case studies to illustrate how MOOCs are successfully being used to address institutional goals.

The study finds that a primary goal for institutions offering MOOCs is to extend institutional reach and access to education. "MOOCs are providing educational opportunities to millions of individuals across the world," write Fiona M. Hollands (Ph.D. '03) and Devayani Tirthali (Ed.D. '13, Ed.M. '12), respectively of the College's Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education and the Institute for Learning Technologies, in their report, "MOOCs: Expectations and Reality." However, to date, "most MOOC participants are already well-educated and employed." Consequently, "the evidence suggests that MOOCs currently are falling far short of 'democratizing' education and may, for now, be doing more to increase gaps in access to education than to diminish them."

Using MOOCs to "build and maintain brand" is another frequently mentioned institutional goal, but while MOOCs often generate media attention, "isolating and measuring impact of any new initiative on brand is a difficult exercise," the report suggests. Indeed, increasing access to online offerings and enhancing brand may be contradictory goals, because the former can be seen as diminishing the selectiveness of the offering institution.

Hollands and Tirthali report that it is still too early to know whether MOOCs can live up to the hype of providing a cost-effective means for producing better educational outcomes on a mass scale. Cost analyses of MOOC production and delivery at four different institutions found that costs ranged from $39,000 to $325,000 per MOOC. "MOOCs have, so far, proved to be a significant drain on time and money for institutions," Hollands and Tirthali write. That picture could change as institutions reuse MOOC materials, share them with each other, develop common courses, replace on-campus courses with MOOCs, and save on faculty teaching time and facilities costs. Revenue streams from MOOCs have been slow in materializing. Unless costs of MOOC production can be recovered through fees, Hollands and Tirthali speculate that "free, non-credit bearing MOOCs are likely to remain available only from the wealthiest institutions that can subsidize the costs from other sources of funds."

As for improving learning outcomes, MOOCs, on the whole, cannot yet make that claim. "While interviewees provided many examples of how MOOCs have been used to change instruction, for the most part, actual impact on educational outcomes has not been documented in any rigorous fashion," the report asserts.

However, two cases highlighted in the report provide examples of positive effects on student performance as a result of adopting MOOC-inspired strategies such as frequent assessment and automatic feedback, or of integrating MOOCs into flipped on-campus courses.

Hollands and Tirthali conclude that "while the potential for MOOCs to contribute significantly to the development of personalized and adaptive learning is high, the reality is far from being achieved." To get there, "a great deal of coordination and collaboration among content experts, instructors, researchers, instructional designers, and programmers will be necessary."

Hollands and Tirthali make several recommendations to institutions for increasing the value of MOOCs to improve access and educational outcomes, and to reduce the costs of higher education. These include:

• Identifying multiple channels of communication to advertise MOOCs to less connected audiences, and providing more instructional scaffolding to serve less educated participants • Assessing the impact of MOOC pedagogy on educational outcomes by conducting pre- and post-assessment of participant skills and knowledge • Developing metrics to assess gains in cognitive and non-cognitive skills that can be applied outside the MOOC environment • Finding ways to confer economic value on MOOC completion, such as providing employer-recognized credentials • Using MOOCs to substitute standardized courses across multiple campuses, or for continuing professional development and certification • Working towards standardization of data formats across online learning platforms in order to facilitate research • Establishing an accreditation system to evaluate MOOCs and other non-degree-based learning experiences to allow learners to accumulate a portfolio of credentials.

The report can be found online at: http://cbcse.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/MOOCs_Expectations_and_Reality.pdf


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University, Teachers College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Columbia University, Teachers College. "Massive online open classrooms not yet meeting high expectations, new study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515123211.htm>.
Columbia University, Teachers College. (2014, May 15). Massive online open classrooms not yet meeting high expectations, new study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515123211.htm
Columbia University, Teachers College. "Massive online open classrooms not yet meeting high expectations, new study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515123211.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 23, 2014) The WHO has warned up to 20,000 people could be infected with Ebola over the next few weeks. As Sonia Legg reports, the implications for the West African countries suffering from the disease are huge. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Cases Could Reach 1.4 Million Within 4 Months

Ebola Cases Could Reach 1.4 Million Within 4 Months

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) Health officials warn that without further intervention, the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could reach 1.4 million by January. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: No Nation Gets Pass on Climate Change

Obama: No Nation Gets Pass on Climate Change

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) In a forceful appeal for international cooperation on limiting carbon pollution, President Barack Obama warned world leaders at the UN Climate Summit on Tuesday that the globe's climate is changing faster than efforts to address it. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Overcrowding Has Public Schools Going Vertical

Overcrowding Has Public Schools Going Vertical

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) Pricey real estate and overcrowding have forced urban and suburban school districts to get creative. In Atlanta and outside Washington, that means converting high rise commercial buildings into vertical learning environments. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins