While it's tempting to just fall back on the acronym and say that if a course is massive, open and delivered online then it must be a MOOC, once you dig into the details, it turns out that each one of these words is either ambiguous or open to challenge.
Rather than cannibalizing the applicant pool, MOOCs are likely to end up just one of many alternatives for students looking to shorten their time in school or (more likely) place out of entry level courses.
Basing our denominator on enrollments assumes that everyone who hits the enroll button on a MOOC web page should be considered the equivalent of a college student who signs up to take a course at their university. But is that an appropriate assumption?
As a cautious enthusiast, I'm thrilled that people like Professor Meisenhelder are around to reinforce the important lesson that just because Tom Friedman says something (including the MOOC) is the unstoppable wave of the future does not necessarily make it so.
As this project winds to a conclusion, I plan to share what I've learned regarding how close or far MOOCs and other free learning tools are to "delivering the goods" in comparison to traditional forms of higher education.
As I scan today's landscape of challenges and opportunities for higher education, I find it helpful to think in a "3D" way as well, though the dimensions I focus on are: Demographics, Debt, and Digital Learning.
Our students need both a good liberal arts education and the foundation to develop core competencies in liberal arts graduates. Moreover, we as educators need a way to measure core competencies in the liberal arts field.
During the last few months, I've discussed the often loud, sometimes angry debate over whether students should receive real college credit for finishing a MOOC. But what if such credit were offered, but no one decided to take it?
A MOOC serves a purpose -- no one can argue that. But it does not yet serve the purpose of high-quality online education, and until it does, conflating the two only serves to highlight a deeply flawed premise, which gets us nowhere.
I spent little time thinking of secondary education. I was too busy trying to survive.
I was later adopted, as an adult, and my new mother helped me to go back to school. My story is rare. Most who walked a minute in my shoes will never see the inside of a college classroom.
While I wish I had studied more about finance, management and marketing before I started my own business many years ago, I don't regret having dedicated my college years to "less practical" subjects such as chemistry, history and literature.
Unlike a scientific experiment that can keep controls and treated samples isolated in separate test tubes, the MOOC experiment is playing out in one of the messier corners of the already messy real world: academia.