As Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) become more popular through such programs as Uadcity, Coursera and EdX, some experts in higher education have feared that MOOCs could kill higher education.
While that may sound possible in theory, other experts believe that there are many major barriers to prevent that from happening.
First, not every student wants to learn online, even if the course is offered by a top tier university. Research has shown that there is no major difference in learning outcomes whether you take a course online or on the college green. But just because there is no difference does not mean that all people are equally happy with both. Some students are always going to prefer going to an actual classroom.
Second, many MOOCs are taught in an asynchronous fashion, which means that the courses are taught whenever the individual student sits down to the computer. This gives the student complete flexibility on when he or she can take the class. But the problem with this is that there then is no live interaction with the professor or with other students. People who want to have real interaction with other people while they learn are not going to be well served by this model.
Third, the very nature of a MOOC is that there are often thousands of other students taking the class. So, you are probably not going to get much individual attention from the big name professor that got you to sign up for the class in the first place.
Fourth, most of the classes that are being taught by these prestigious universities, such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford, are not offered for academic credit. The fact is that these universities are not so much selling education per se, as they are selling a highly prestigious credential. When employers begin to accept a MOOC certificate as the same as a university degree, perhaps MOOCs will be more of a challenge or threat to regular university education.
MOOCs are a very exciting new tool in the world of adult education, and it is great that they are being offered. But it does not seem likely, when you consider the situation carefully, that they are going to replace a traditional degree program any time soon.