University Business LogoBy Mehdi Maghsoodnia. It’s no secret that universities across the nation are facing more challenges than ever before. Shrinking budgets are contrasted with higher costs and aging facilities. The government is getting more involved from a regulatory standpoint while decreasing its funding support for education. Demand is up, enrollments are all over the map and across the board, and graduation rates are down. It’s a roller coaster of peaks and valleys that leaves schools fighting for ways to cope, retain students, and help them graduate on time.
So it comes as no surprise that schools are looking for a silver bullet to answer their questions and solve their problems. Today, and for the past year or so, that bullet has been MOOCs, massive open online courses offered by companies like Coursera, edX, and Udacity. These online courses are virtually attended by students around the world; some courses even boast attendance in the hundreds of thousands. They’re popular for good reason: they offer access, often at no cost, to top-notch classes previously relegated only to those smart (and privileged) enough to attend the nation’s top schools. They’re a natural extension of traditional teaching that’s enabled by the internet.
And they’re an effective tactic; people are open to learning via high quality content on the Internet, a fact validated by the popularity of sites like Khan Academy and TED.com. Schools create very high quality content, and so it is natural to want to extend that content to massive audiences. MOOCs provide tremendous scale—a single course can be taught to an unlimited number of online students—and are coming of age at a time when many schools are seeking to address the demand for our schools’ content both domestically and abroad. Read more...