17 November 2013

International Reach of MOOCs Is Limited by Users' Preferences

Chronicle of Higher Education (11/13/13) Hannah Winston 

Speakers at Transatlantic Science Week, sponsored by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, note that massive open online courses (MOOCs) might democratize higher education globally, but significant progress would be required to reach such a point. Norway's minister of education and research Torbjorn Roe Isaksen says MOOCs could "give people all over the world access to education," but he is not aware of MOOCs focusing on developing countries in South America and Africa. In addition, Isaksen says MOOC provider data show that most students already have degrees and are looking to further their learning, indicating that the courses might not draw people who have not had access to higher education. "If MOOCs are going to contribute to the democratization of society, they need to reach new learners," says University of Bergen professor Dag Rune Olsen. Even China, where college overcrowding forces students to go abroad, is not fully embracing MOOCs, says Institute of International Education president Allan Goodman. Students at a recent education exposition in China told Goodman they were aware of MOOCs, but still wanted the on-campus college experience. MOOCs need to understand what students are seeking with on-campus learning if they are to flourish, says Harvard University professor Chris Dede.

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