After a rash of enthusiasm about Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), the counter-reaction is setting in. Only a tiny percentage of the hoards of people enrolling in classes actually complete them. Many students drop out because they have competing demands for their time; others get bored by the inability to have meaningful interaction with the professor or anyone else, even on online chat boards.
Rachelle DeJong enrolled in two MOOCs and declared them massively boring. Here’s what she wrote for “Minding the Campus“:
One of the main defects in MOOCs is the sterile, disengaged character that afflicts many online courses, especially massive online courses. If a course is to be more than an intellectual IV dripping raw facts into the mind, it requires articulation of questions and synthesizing of answers, discussion and debate over claims and analyses, and some form of intellectual community that helps turn information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. Mere physical presence doesn’t guarantee any of these things, of course, but they do depend in varying ways on personal connection, which is much harder to replicate online.
Undoubtedly, there will be a niche for MOOCs, but I don’t see massively open online courses overthrowing conventional education. More likely the industry will gravitate to blended models that integrate computer learning, online learning and personal interaction — a model that combines the advantages of personal contact with the economies made possible by education.
The experimentation will continue…