According to a recent NY TImes article by Tamar Lewen, California’s public colleges and universities have recently voted to give credit to students taking faculty-approved online courses in cases where those courses were oversubscribed. While this may be a “bottom line” issue for a severely budget-challenged higher ed system, it’s amazing news for those of us who are championing the demise of the credit hour. This decision is also cracking open the market for MOOC providers- another excellent outcome. We need more competition to create higher quality video content across a wider range of subject areas.
This quote from the president of the California Faculty Association sums up the perennially weak counter-argument for MOOCs, “This whole online thing is not well-vetted yet,” she said. “There’s a sort of mania for massive online courses right now, but there’s no good evidence that they work for all students.” Yes, because we know that the traditional higher ed approach is really working for all students (sarcasm). She goes on to complain that MOOCs are giving away ”the job of educating our students.” Well, if overcrowding, ridiculous student debt load and low employability are the outcomes from our current higher ed model, I say bring it on. But let’s not stop there. We can have our MOOCs and eat them too… I mean, we can have students watch their MOOCs and still have access to high quality educators if we shift precious class meeting time to flipped classroom models where those educators can actually engage students in problem solving and critical thinking because students have sat through the lecture outside of class time.
So, let’s not just stop at opening up online courses for credit- let’s redesign our higher ed teaching models to make the most of all of our resources. Next big challenge? Creating an inexpensive model for seminars for those California students (and more!) who are taking the online courses with no access to profs… stay tuned as KEPLER tries a few models on for size.