Chafkin (2014) describes the first MOOC: a Stanford professor providing lectures, exams, and homework assignments online, the same content provided to those taking the for-credit course. The idea was started by Sebastian Thrun to provide additional lectures or a “flipped classroom” to his current students. Just as online courses vary in length and pedagogy, so too do MOOCs. Many MOOCs lack teacher engagement and are essentially the Internet book version of a course (Singh, 2014). Singh reports one of the common reason participants may drop a MOOC is the lack of live teacher engagement (2014). There has been a recent shift in the facilitation of MOOCs and it will be interesting to see if this shift toward the importance of teacher engagement does improve dropout rates in MOOCs. Thrun, has determined that the MOOC is not the answer to the educational gap or free education to all. He refers to the data, dropout rates, and lousy product in the Chafkin (2014) interview.
The typical MOOC user is a mid-career professional in search of specific skills training and refresher courses and not the twenty-something student seeking an alternative to college, according to Peterson (2014). This audience is an important consideration for the future of MOOCs, which will likely shift focus to professional development, community building courses, or toward courses that complement not compete (Peterson, 2014) with traditional college courses.
Chafkin, M. (2014). Udacity’s Sebastian Thrun, godfather of free online education, changes course. Retrieved from: http://www.fastcompany.com/3021473/udacity-sebastian-thrun-uphill-climb
Peterson, R. D. (2014). MOOC fizzles. Academic Questions 27(3), 316-319.
Singh, H. (2014). What’s wrong with MOOCs and why aren’t they changing the game in education. Retrieved from: http://archive.wired.com/insights/2014/08/whats-wrong-moocs-arent-changing-game-education/