MOOCS – “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”
The concept of MOOCS – of opening up higher education and making it available to all, is excellent in theory and, maybe, many people do benefit from it, . . . but . . . it is unlikely to change the wider educational landscape appreciably. It has, or may find, a minor niche market.
The students who are most likely to benefit from it have to be extremely well motivated and esoteric by nature; probably post-graduates in academia.
Successful educational institutions depend on a body of tutors who are experts in their particular field who have been trained to (i) impart their learning to students, (ii) to motivate (inspire) their students, (iii) teach them the skills needed to learn and, (iv) to prepare them for examination success. A continuing success rate develops a reputation for excellence but they also heavily depend on an adequate and continuing income stream.
The MOOCS concept does not appear to recognise these factors.
My granddaughter is a third-year medical student at a UK university . . . she wants to be a medical doctor: But, before she can practice medicine in the UK she must first be registered by the British Medical Council and they demand the qualifications MB BCh gained at suitably accredited Medical School attached to a suitably accredited university. Becoming a qualified medical doctor involves highly intelligent and well motivated student, a lengthy time period, and money.
The same pattern is a basic requirement of most of the professional institutions in the UK, viz Law, Architecture, Civil Engineering, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, etc.
Where do these fit into the MOOCS concept?
My own experience is in teaching the pupils in a UK High School (11 to 16). The role of the Tutor is crucial to the whole learning experience and the tutor’s professionalism should never be under-rated; neither can the tutor/pupil relationship be blurred or replaced with a tutor/content relationship. In this modern world, examination success and the ethos and reputation of the school as an institution are also contributory factors not to be lightly dismissed.