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.
The fact is, Silicon Valley has yet to come to terms with education. It's a massive, global market, but a notoriously complex one that is tricky to negotiate. A lot of what goes on in education is almost certainly not scalable.
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 we should, our nation will pause for the twelfth time next week to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks and reflect on the heroism and dedication of those who have sacrificed their lives to save the innocent and fight the battles resulting from these attacks.
Whether it's to make money, pursue a second (or third!) career or simply for your own personal entertainment, don't let the voices inside your head convince you that you can't try to learn and apply a new skill.
What are the benefits for the vast majority of students who, for various reasons, are not able to benefit significantly from taking a MOOC? Indeed, can the technologies on which MOOCs are built offer any benefits to average students?
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?
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.
The essence of a good education is, to a large extent, the ability to recognize an important issue in a particular field of study, analyze a problem if it exists, and determine the best course of action.
If people are willing to pay $2,000 or more per credit when a course is taken within a degree-granting institution, but less than 5 percent of that for the same course stands alone, that's a pretty strong indication of where the value in the college course truly lies.
I'm now close to a month into the sophomore year of my Degree of Freedom One Year BA project (which will run from April through June), and wanted to give readers a peek at what's on the docket for the next few months.