To MOOC or not to MOOC?

To MOOC or not to MOOC, that is the question! With apologies to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the question is straight-forward but as it is so often with Education the answer is not.

Much has been written of the rise and demise of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).  In 2012 there was the surge of venture capital flowing into MOOC startups, Udacity and Coursera, with the CEO (Sebastion Thrun) of the former stating that in 50 years’ time there might be only 10 universities as we know them today. That got everyone’s attention! Then in 2013, there was the high-profile failure of the SFSU joint project with Udacity, the reported high attrition rates and the MOOC providers looking for a sustainable business model built on freely available courses delivered at scale.

Certainly MOOCs have been a huge headline and whether they are here to stay or not, they have created an enormous amount of discussion and thinking about online education at the highest levels in our universities.  This can only be a good thing as long as decision makers are properly advised as to the applicability of MOOCs in an educational environment in which “one size doesn’t fit all”.

On the continuum of technology facilitated learning approaches, MOOCs have a role but it is one that is additive rather than disruptive to existing approaches to both online and traditional face-to-face tuition.

From Blackboard’s perspective we have been observing the world of MOOCs carefully and it is clear that institutions are seeing that they serve a variety of purposes.  Primarily the drivers for MOOCs are:

  • Open access: to broaden access to educational content and help teach the world.  Helping the movement to make education truly global.
  • Experimentation: this to me is the most exciting.  People using MOOCs to experiment and conduct research on the online learning experience to inform the future.
  • Marketing: institutions that are looking to MOOCs as an opportunity to give a free introduction to what their brand stands for by showcasing courses and/or faculty.

We thought heavily about these 3 drivers when we decided how to best support this continuing trend in education and I’m excited to share that we are providing free of charge to Blackboard clients, a MOOC/Open Education platform to support all of these purposes – and others as they emerge.

Now what will you get from a Blackboard MOOC Platform?

  • A Platform you know – one that your faculty is already familiar with so that you can build your MOOCs efficiently.  And one from which successful experiments can be easily converted to your core learning platform.
  • You are going to get the best of current and next generation learning and teaching tools – the results of all of the acceleration, integration and innovation.
  • You will get the ability to easily bridge your MOOC and enterprise platform in key areas such as content and social.
  • And you will get a fully supported platform, ready to scale as you do.

As partners in shaping the future vision of education, we want to make sure you as a client of Blackboard have a free integrated platform where you can experiment,  innovate, and make a global impact through education no matter what the goals of your MOOC initiative may be.

You can see more information about our approach to MOOCs including release dates in my recent presentation –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *