Are MOOCs a failure?

Academics to Udacity Founder: Told Ya
In a magazine profile, Sebastian Thrun says MOOCs are a “lousy product” to use for educating under prepared college students.

sms toonMy own suspicion is that MOOCs, like textbooks or any other toll, work best with students who are able to study on their own.

The danger is that they have been sold as a cheap panacea by folks promoting our own Western Governors University.

Until we reach beyond simple artificial intelligence, all any online material can do is offer students cheap tests and cheap learning materials.  Mentors, like those at WGU, can encourage students but the level of interaction required by ANY student with complex materials means s/he needs someway to talk with an expert.

Well prepared students, of course, can use MOOCs just as they have used textbooks to teach themselves.  That is a good thing.  What scares me about WGU is that their use of MOOCs combined with standardized tests and no oversight by expert faculty, mean we may train to these tests ..train people whose level of knowledge is what WGU calls competency and that standard may drive down the value of a more authentic education.

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