The advent of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has drawn mixed reactions from various education stakeholders. While some consider MOOCs to be a revolutionary tool in modern education, others consider it as a disruption to the traditionally-modeled higher education. Nevertheless, the demand for MOOCs is at an all time high partly due to its convenience. The latest improvements on MOOCs have also endeared this mode of higher education to some of its former critics. MOOCs operate in form of classes that are delivered partially or wholly across a computer network. This mode of education has been in existence for a few years. Currently, there are MOOCs that have attracted more than two hundred and fifty million students. The rising level of interest in MOOCs has warranted the need to investigate any impacts that they might have on higher education. Boards in institutions of higher learning have been working hard to realize the actual impact of MOOCs on their programs. This paper investigates the effects of MOOCs on higher education.
MOOCs have acted as promoters of new trends in open education. Consequently, they have revitalized higher education. The development of higher education has greatly benefited from the advent of MOOCs. MOOCs have helped to develop higher education globally. Furthermore, open education has helped ease the access to education for various people across the globe. Another way through which MOOCs have revitalized higher education is by pushing the internationalization agenda of higher education. Before MOOCs, internalization of higher education remained a big challenge because of the various geographical challenges that were faced by this agenda. MOOCs also help higher education stakeholders meet the rising global demand for higher education. For instance, it is projected that by the year 2020, the number of the students pursuing higher education in the world will be over 120 million (Daniel, 2012). MOOCs have also revitalized higher education by introducing new demographics to the learning environment. For instance, MOOCs have made it easier for lifelong adult learners to pursue higher education. Open learning is cheaper compared to other modes of higher learning. Therefore, MOOCs have helped in tackling the issue of affordable higher education. Stakeholders of higher education have been striving to make higher education affordable and MOOCS have provided such an avenue.
MOOCs have also had various effects on the education policy. Around the world, it is the responsibility of various governments to provide affordable higher education to their citizens (Barbour & Reeves, 2009). The cost of this provision has been on the rise. This has prompted governments to look for alternatives to reduce education costs and at the same time improve the quality of education. The MOOCs are modeled to tackle these two challenges. Therefore, governments around the world are finding MOOCs to be a valuable component of their educational packages. There are three key education policy areas that touch on provision of MOOCs. These areas include costs of education, quality assurances of higher education, and provision of educational degrees. In most areas around the world, higher education is under government control and instances of privatization of institutions of higher learning are limited. Therefore, most students rely on government grants to fund their higher education. Recently, some governments have been finding it necessary to change their education policies by allowing for privatization of higher learning institutions. MOOCs have had a big impact on the privatization and funding policies of higher education. Moreover, MOOCs have had a big effect on the quality of higher education. Previously, it had been difficult to monitor the development of MOOCs. This has made it possible for some providers of MOOCs to compromise on the quality of higher education. A similar issue concerning degree provision policy has been witnessed. The effects of MOOCs on degree provision have been both positive and negative. Some MOOCs tend to trivialize the time requirements of acquiring a university degree and end up compromising the quality of education.
The institutions of higher learning have also been affected by the advent of MOOCs. The survival of some institutions has been threatened by the development of MOOCs mostly due to the fact that most students prefer MOOCs as opposed to the traditional institutions of higher learning. Nevertheless, most institutions have responded to this threat by adopting some features of the MOOCs (Cohen & Nachmias, 2006). One positive effect that MOOCs have had on institutions of higher learning is that they have promoted openness in these institutions. The nature of MOOCs enables institutions to participate and contribute to courses that are run by other institutions.
MOOCs have had far reaching effects on higher learning. This mode of open learning has promised to revolutionize higher education through the provision of affordable, flexible, and accessible education. Furthermore, MOOCs have provided opportunities to private investors, institutions of higher learning, and governments. A new breed of learners who are seeking affordable, convenient, and quality education are set to benefit from MOOCs. The MOOCs revolution in higher education is set to give educators room to explore new frontiers in higher learning.
Barbour, M. K., & Reeves, T. C. (2009). The reality of virtual schools: A review of the literature. Computers & Education, 52(2), 402-416.
Cohen, A., & Nachmias, R. (2006). A quantitative cost effectiveness model for Web – supported academic instruction. The Internet and Higher Education, 9(2), 81-90.
Daniel, J. (2012). Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 4(2), 3-6.