In the end, MOOCs and online programs primarily help those who are self motivated to learn, and the vast majority of these people would have figured out how to educate themselves, whether in college or on their own, regardless of whether or not online courses are available.
The problem is that the decision makers often don’t have the marketing skills to differentiate between different addressable audiences. External adult learners may not want a long-winded, over-engineered, six to ten week course on anything. Life’s too short. Yet academics are used to producing courses of this semester length. What many may want are mini MOOCs. They may want them to be asynchronous starting and ending when convenient for them. This, of course, is exactly what’s happening. All in all, however, the good news is that MOOCs are forcing HE institutions to change. MOOCs may very well be the force that makes them more open, transparent and relevant. There will, of course, be a backlash, but the digital genie is out of the bottle - MOOCs are here to stay.
PLOS Biology is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal that features works of exceptional significance in all areas of biological science, from molecules to ecosystems, including works at the interface with other disciplines.