Not too surprisingly, Boston has become one of the epicenters of the next would-be education revolution: Online learning. Spearheaded by EdX, which gained backing from Harvard and MIT, the city that hosts some hundred institutions of higher education is also trying to reform it. Harman Singh, the founder and chief executive of WizIQ, shares where he sees the field stumbling.
As technology advances, we have more access to information. One technology, Massive Open Online Courses (better known as MOOCs) is beginning to change the way we look at education. These online courses are free and filled with information on just about anything you want to learn — from project management skills to learning a new language. And because MOOCs are free, access is open to anyone with a computer.
Just as learners have open access to MOOCs, instructors from schools and universities to a variety of education providers, and practically anyone with a skill to share, can host a MOOC. The emergence of MOOCs has the potential to inevitably change the way we receive our education.
Just how prevalent are MOOCs? There are hundreds of MOOCs globally, some from even established universities such as Harvard and Stanford. MOOCs fill a void for learners who lack the time — and/or dollars — to physically attend a course featuring high-quality content. Needless to say, MOOCs are regarded as a game-changer in online education.
But are they really changing the game in learning?
Why MOOCs Aren’t Working Right Now
In the future, MOOCs have the potential to completely transform education. However, as of right now, don’t expect to see universities shutting down as a result, as some experts have begun projecting. Despite the recent rapid rise in MOOCs, this format continues to be an evolving model, and one that isn’t quite established yet.
Despite the seemingly unlimited access to free information through MOOCs, a 2012-2013 study conducted by MIT and Harvard revealed an overwhelming 95 percent of students dropped their online courses before completion, a rate substantially higher than traditional education’s dropout rates. While some students have expressed satisfaction taking MOOCs, others give various reasons for dropping them. Among the most common reason cited behind this dropout rate: there is no live teacher engagement.
Currently, just 10 percent of MOOC registrants complete their courses. Why — if all the materials are free and available with the click of a mouse? MOOCs are structured using a series of pre-recorded video-based, self-paced classes offered to students for free. There are no live instructors to help facilitate the classes, lectures, or content. There is also no straight-and-narrow path from beginning-to-end and the format does not encourage the exchange of different thoughts and ideas among learners. The lack of live instructor involvement also means no follow-up with the student, or any assurance along the way that the student’s learning trajectory is heading in the right direction. At the course’s conclusion, only the learner can determine if he or she was successful.
The modern MOOC — without live and interactive teacher engagement — is essentially an Internet version of a book. That said, there is tremendous potential for the MOOC to evolve in a major way. To reduce dropout rates, the MOOC must be structured around live teacher engagement.
Some online learning platforms are now taking notice of this need for student-teacher engagement. At WizIQ, for example, our platform is an open marketplace where anyone can offer a MOOC, but we are integrating actual teacher engagement into the MOOC, filling a need within the online education sector.
Still Plenty of Room – and Time – For Growth
With the potential evolution for more online courses to include live instructor interaction, MOOCs can have a significant impact in higher education. Economics alone provides a huge advantage for MOOCs. According to a Deloitte study:
Via Peter Mellow