NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

College May Never Be the Same

September 14, 2012

The college landscape is beginning to change as many universities begin shifting to online classrooms to teach students, says USA Today.

  • Many universities are experimenting with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to teach students.
  • Each MOOC offers a series of short video segments recorded by an instructor and followed by a quiz.
  • Students can ask and answer questions on online message boards and meet up with people online to study.
  • Upon completion of a MOOC, students can receive a certificate of proof that they completed the course.
  • MOOCs have proven to ignite an interest, as more than 160,000 people signed up to take a free artificial intelligence class offered by Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun.

The goal of MOOCs is to lower the costs of higher education, potentially making them free for all students. Providers of MOOCs can turn to advertising and licensing as a source of revenue. They can also charge students to receive their certificates upon completion. In any case, MOOCs represent a vast reduction in costs associated with higher education.

Critics argue that students can game the system and have other people take tests and quizzes for them. In response, Pearson, an education publishing company, will begin to allow students to take a proctored final exam for some courses. This provides a way for the identity of students to be checked to ensure that students enrolled in the course are the same ones taking the exam.

Finally, MOOCs offer the possibility for people around the world to get quality education at little to no cost. Students in Mongolia and India have signed up for courses offered by MIT, for example. This will help developing countries tremendously as they seek to provide higher education for its citizens.

Source: Mary Beth Marklein, College May Never Be the Same," USA Today, September 12, 2012.


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