Research Profile

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Moocs a gamechanger but not a cheap option


Andrew McGettigan asks whether Moocs will offer a low cost alternative mechanism for delivery of higher education (Will Moocs be the scourge or saviour of higher education, The Guardian,13 May).



Whilst it may be tempting to argue that economies of scale will push down the price of degree programmes, it is easy to underestimate the real costs of development of high quality distance learning materials and robust methods of assessment. Put simply, high quality distance learning - fit for remotely educating thousands of students -  cannot be developed and delivered on the cheap. That may be why the current drop-out rates for MOOCs are estimated at greater than 90%, which would be unacceptable for most university degree programmes.

There is no doubt that MOOCs are important and potentially exciting for opening up access to higher education. But for those in government and elsewhere who think its going to provide a quick fix for escalating deficits associated with student loans, think again. Development of personalised learning by harnessing technological advances is undoubtedly going to transform higher education. But it will require substantial, long term investment, and for those who pay the bills, considerable patience in realising a return. 

This is a modified version of a letter published in the Guardian newspaper at http://buff.ly/10zgrQJ

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