May 082014
Will Online Higher Education called “Massive Open Online Courses” (known as MOOCs) reduce the rising costs of higher education?
The Economist says, Besides the uncertainty over which business model, if any, will produce profits, there is disagreement over how big the market will be. Some see a zero- or negative-sum game, in which cheap online providers radically reduce the cost of higher education and drive many traditional institutions to the wall. Others believe this effect will be dwarfed by the dramatic increase in access to higher education that the MOOCs will bring.”


Drivers of Disruptive Technologies in Higher Education

Innovative opportunities in informational and other disruptive educational technologies arise out of emerging online MOOCs education nowadays and ongoing into the future. The main drivers in this emerging technological management issue in higher education are the following:

  1. Substituting venture capital for good labor (that is, good teaching, research, and public service) is a huge mistake. In other words, success in online MOOCs education hinges upon faculty ownership of the curricula, which is a faculty responsibility. And the college governing board’s role is to ensure that the faculty does not delegate their online MOOCs curricula ownership;
  2. Having excellent “online MOOCs education” pilot-programs is essential to establish a strong evidence-driven research base in which to draw best practices from use of such disruptive technologies in higher education, and how such use has enhanced higher education access and affordability; and
  3. Reviewing measurable performance and contributions of online MOOCs is critical to overall institutional academic quality improvements and expectations of student learning-outcomes and student learning-assessments, as a regular ladder faculty and expected board-level activity.


Several Issues Being Debated About Online Higher Education

Online MOOCs education space must create advocates of the use of online educational technologies to reduce costs efficiently and effectively in higher education.

Online degree MOOCs are innovative outreach and engagement opportunities for colleges and universities.

Online degree MOOCs are disruptive technologies emerging for the hyper-competitive future of higher education accessibility and affordability. This is especially important for higher education businesses operating in an age of future demography shifts and heightened engagement.

General consensus also believes that higher education consumers may be perhaps getting practical work-study business training through online MOOCs being considered for offerings from professional business schools. It is like having an expensive business textbook live, especially if provided by elites like Harvard, Wharton, Chicago Booth, Stanford, Berkeley Haas, and UCLA Anderson B-schools.

Consumers must, however, carry on with due-diligent caution in making choices and selections among available online degree MOOCs programs. Beware of ‘pretender or fake’ online business education, as well as, all online degree MOOCs programs that substitute capital for labor. As once again reiterating here a top driver pointed out above, quality faculty owning the online curriculum taught is vital.


Open Questions Remain Unanswered

Seven essential higher education and workforce development open questions associated with the online MOOCs business case are:

  1. How can colleges ensure high quality, high access, higher education, while at low costs?
  2. What are colleges’ emerging demography, equitable participation, and access, and how diverse are colleges’ online MOOCs programmatic content, engagement, as well as, strategic outreach and intent?
  3. Who is colleges’ emerging online MOOCs audience and stakeholders, and how closely-tied is this audience and stakeholder-base to colleges’ mission and philanthropic stewardship?
  4. Are colleges’ ladder faculty enthusiastically and intimately involved in the ownership of the colleges’ online MOOCs education, teaching, research, and public-service outreach and engagement?
  5. How are colleges’ core teaching of online MOOCs curricula evaluated in media-based distance-learning and student assessment?
  6. How exactly are online MOOCs students’ educational experiences engaged, measured, and assessed?
  7. With disruptive technologies, like ‘Internet of Everything‘ and ‘Software-Defined Anything‘, rapidly evolving in the next decade, what could be the emerging online ‘learning spaces’ created by ladder faculty, and how do ladder faculty assess novel learning-outcomes of such innovative online ‘learning spaces’?

As in any corporation, [higher education boards] have ultimate responsibility for the soundness of the institution’s products and the integrity of its operations. At bottom, this means that it must be able to stand behind the competitiveness of the institution’s graduates with respect to their knowledge and skills and the academic integrity of the curriculum that prepared them. This is what we signify when we stand with our faculty and graduates at every commencement convocation. We need to act on this testimony in the boardroom.” — Peter T. Ewell, Vice President, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, and Trustee of Truman State University (Missouri)

As scores of colleges rush to offer free online classes, the ‘mania’ over massive open online courses may be slowing down. Even top proponents of MOOCs are acknowledging these seven critical questions raised here remain unanswered. Proponents are urging much needed further study on accountability, competitiveness, educational access and affordability, and assessment-based evidences of emerging online MOOCs academic quality.

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