MOOCs –Passing Fad or the Real Deal?

MOOCs for WordPress blog

Due to their potential to creatively disrupt the well-established Higher Ed business model, Massive Open Online Classes (MOOCs) are catching the eye of both Higher Educators and tech-savvy professionals. Hiles (2013) suggested that MOOCs are the “Next Big Thing” with “Silicon Valley and academia abuzz”. So, what are MOOCs and what does it mean for Virtual HRD?

Companies such as Coursera (founded by two Stanford computer professors), edX (formed through a new partnership of MIT and Harvard; see MITnews, 2012) and Udacity (built by a Stanford professor; see DeSantis, 2012) provide course management for free online courses that enroll thousands of students in each course. University leaders such as Harvard and MIT are providing one or more MOOCs. Doing so may alleviate student loan debt crisis recently in the headlines (CNNMoney, 2012).

Strauss (2013) commented that although students in MOOCs were initially excited to take a course from a Stanford or other high profile university professor, less than a fourth of students, actually completed their MOOC. As Rosen (2012) pointed out, a dropout rate of 75% or more would be an alarming non-completion course rate for any university.
However, do not expect MOOCs to go away any time soon.

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the American Council on Education (ACE) will be seeking ways that students in MOOCs could receive college credit to aid course completion. ACE recently announced that five of Coursera’s MOOCs were deemed to be close enough in quality to a campus-based class they agreed credit should offered for course completion (Groux, 2013). Other large university systems such as The University of Texas, edX’s newest MOOC partner, “wants to use [MOOCs] to get more students through college more quickly and for less money” (Kolowich, 2012).

Hiles concluded, “Though MOOCs may sound gimmicky and faddy and even silly, they are the real deal. They’re spawning a supporting ecosystem. And they just may be the future of education”. This phenomenon resonates the essence of Virtual HRD:  “utilizing technologically intergrative environments for increasing learning capacity” (McWhorter, 2011) through formal, informal, and lifelong learning.


CNNMoney (2012). Fed: Student loans soar 275% over past decade. Retrieved from

DeSantis, N. (2012). Stanford professor gives up [tenured] teaching position, hopes to reach 500,000 students at online start-up. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Groux, C. (2013). American Council on Education approves 5 MOOCs for course credit. Retrieved from

Hiles, H. (2013). How MOOCs will shape the future of higher education. LinkedIn. Retrieved from

Kolowich, S. (2012). Texas MOOCs for Credit? Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

MITnews (2012). What is edX? Answering common questions about MIT and Harvard’s new partnership in online education. Retrieved from

Rosen, R. J. (2012). Overblown-claims-of-failure watch: How not to gauge the success of online courses. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

Strauss, V. (2013). ‘Irrational exuberance’ over MOOCs. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

This entry was posted in Informal Learning, Uncategorized, VHRD Definitional and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s