In the last year, MOOCs have gotten a tremendous amount of publicity. Last November, the New York Times decided that 2012 was “the Year of the MOOC,” and columnists like David Brooks and Thomas Friedman have proclaimed ad nauseum that the MOOC “revolution” is a “tsunami” that will soon transform higher education. As a Time cover article on MOOCs put it—in a rhetorical flourish that has become a truly dead cliché—“College is Dead. Long Live College!”
6.00x is an introduction to using computation to solve real problems. The course is aimed at students with little or no prior programming experience who have a desire (or at least a need) to understand computational approaches to problem solving. Some of the people taking the course will use it as a stepping stone to more advanced computer science courses, but for many, it will be their first and last computer science course.
MOOCs have become a media obsession. Why? In part because they are the continuation of a story that has been around since at least the 1990s and the first days of magazines likeWired and Fast Company. At that time, information technology was depicted as part of a revolution: Marxist rhetoric had been appropriated by capitalism. Information technology would change everything through a peculiar mix of a corporate charge and evangelism, expanded profit opportunities and enlightenment.
The average completion rate for massive open online courses is less than 7 per cent, according to data compiled by an Open University doctoral student as part of her own Mooc studies.
Katy Jordan, whose PhD research focuses on online academic social networks, took time out from her doctorate to gather information on the number of people completing a range of free web-based courses. So far, she has tracked down information on the percentage of students completing 29 Moocs.
Online-education provider Coursera is one step closer to academic acceptance, saying Thursday that the American Council on Education would recommend colleges grant credit for the successful completion of some of its free classes.