September 1, 2014

Briefing on MOOCs for the Board of Governors

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Green, K. (2013) Mission, money and MOOCs Association of Governing Boards Trusteeship, No. 1, Volume 21

Excellent discussion of the implications of MOOCs prepared for governing bodies of universities and colleges.

Some conclusions:

Comparatively few of the nation’s more than 4,000 degree-granting American colleges or universities …. have the personnel, instructional and technological infrastructure, reputation (brand), and available cash to invest in launching their own MOOCs

The key questions that board members, presidents, and provosts confront in the conversation about MOOCs really involve certification and credit:

  • How do/should we assess “prior learning” for students who come to us with a certificate of completion from a MOOC provider such as Coursera, edX, or Udacity?
  • Assuming we can assess prior learning, should we give course credit to students who have completed a MOOC? And if so, for what courses and from which MOOCs?

The fundamental questions boards should be asking include:

  • Why are we online? Is the movement to or expansion of online education consistent with the institutional mission? Does and will it serve and advance the institutional mission? Or is the key issue in the discussion about online education—including any conversations about MOOCs—money?
  • How do we assess quality—that of our own online offerings and those of others, including the MOOCs?
  • What will it take to achieve our objectives in terms of online learning—including human and financial capital, content expertise, the political will to change, and many other concerns?

Well worth passing on to decision-makers concerned about the likely impact of MOOCs.

See also: “What should we do about MOOCs?” – the Board of Governors discusses

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