Shrivastava, A. and Guiney, P. (2014) Technological Development and Tertiary Education Delivery Models: The Arrival of MOOCs  Wellington NZ: Tertiary Education Commission/Te Amorangi Mātauranga Matua

Why this paper?

Another report for the record on MOOCs, this time from the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission. The reasoning behind this report:

The paper focuses on MOOCs [rather than doing a general overview of emerging technologies] because of their potential to disrupt tertiary education and the significant opportunities, challenges and risks that they present. MOOCs are also the sole focus of this paper because of their scale and the involvement of the elite United States universities.

What’s in the paper?

The paper provides a fairly standard, balanced analysis of developments in MOOCs, first by describing the different MOOC delivery models, their business models and the drivers behind MOOCs, then by following up with a broad discussion of the possible implications of MOOCs for New Zealand, such as unbundling of services, possible economies of scale, globalization of tertiary (higher) education, adaptability to learners’ and employers’ needs, and the possible impact on New Zealand’s tertiary education workforce.

There is also a good summary of MOOCs being offered by New Zealand institutions.

At the end of the paper some interesting questions for further discussion are raised:

  • What will tertiary education delivery look like in 2030?

  • What kinds of opportunities and challenges do technological developments, including MOOCs, present to the current policy, regulatory and operational arrangements for tertiary teaching and learning in New Zealand?

  • How can New Zealand make the most of the opportunities and manage any associated risks and challenges?

  • Do MOOCs undermine the central value of higher education, or are they just a helpful ‘updating’ that reflects its new mass nature?

  • Where do MOOCs fit within the New Zealand education and qualifications systems?

  • Who values the knowledge and skills gained from a MOOC programme and why?

  • Can economies of scale be achieved through MOOCs without loss of quality?

  • Can MOOCs lead to better learning outcomes at the same or less cost than traditional classroom-based teaching? If so, how might the Government go about funding institutions that want to deliver MOOCs to a mix of domestic and international learners?

  • What kinds of MOOC accreditation models might make sense in the context of New Zealand’s quality-assurance system?

Answers on a postcard, please, to the NZ Tertiary Education Commission.


Am I alone in wondering what has happened to for-credit online education in government thinking about the future? It is as if 20 years of development of undergraduate and graduate online courses and programs never existed. Surely a critical question for institutions and government planners is:

  • what are the relative advantages and disadvantages of MOOCs over other forms of online learning? What can MOOCs learn from our prior experience with credit-based online learning?

There are several reasons for considering this, but one of the most important is the huge investment many institutions, and, indirectly, governments. have already made in credit-based online learning.

By and large, online learning in publicly funded universities, both in New Zealand and in Canada, has been very successful in terms of both increasing access and in student learning. It is also important to be clear about the differences and some of the similarities between credit-based online learning and MOOCs.

Some of the implications laid out in this paper, such as possibilities of consortia and institutional collaboration, apply just as much to credit-based online learning as to MOOCs, and many of the negative criticisms of MOOCs, such as difficulties of assessment and lack of learner support, disappear when applied to credit-based online learning.

Please, policy-makers, realise that MOOCs are not your only option for innovation through online learning. There are more established and well tested solutions already available.


  1. As if I have written this article . I agree 100 % with few comments though .
    1.- Credited, degree providing online is around for 20 years .
    Problems :
    a) They are from mainly unknown colleges
    b) Quality therefore not good
    c) Colleges are greedy, they charge the same high tuition to online degree programs
    d) Bad online courses coused that ” online education is not as good as f2f ”
    e) Since colleges are small and weak they could not provide better learning labs and continue research

    2.- Now elite, first class universities are providing online .
    Good points :
    a) Quality of courses are first class if it is from an elite, first class university
    b) EDX seems not after Money , non profit.

    Bad points :
    a) They do not provide degrees
    b) Although they say it is free , they are after money. Coursera declared at the beginning they are after Money, they will decide business plan later how to make Money. That is very disturbing .
    c) They started to charge for verifications .
    d) Except edx ; courses are not same as oncampus courses . That means they do not have any academic value .
    e) People just register for curiosity. Then completion rate is 2-3 % Enrollment numbers are used for deceiving people .

    My solution :
    1.- Non profit elite, first class universities must provide online courses and degree too .
    2.- They should charge $ 100-200 per course for sustainablity .
    3.- Good online needs a very strong learning labs supports. MIT has that .Stanford has that .
    4.- Good online can be developed by good BRICK AND MORTAR SCHOOLS . Without them online is impossible .
    Therefore MIT Harvard Stanford CAN DO İT .
    5.- a SİZE OF 1,000 STUDENTS PER SEMESTER plus $ 100 fee is good model. We do not need to be mass
    6.- ONLINE courses must be shared by many universities in order to increase enrollment to around 1,000 only .
    7.- Non-recurring + recurring costs for 5 years , the cost + profit of one online course is $ 1 million .
    You can achieve that by charging only $ 100 for 10 semesters. So you collect in 10 semesters.
    1,000 students x 10 semesters x $ 100 = $ 1 MILLION .
    One should learn first multiplication .


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