MOOCs and educational development: Part 6
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This is the sixth and final post in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses). 

My previous posts were largely about my personal experience learning in a MOOC. I think MOOCs offer excellent learning opportunities for people in developing countries, whether or not they are students in higher education. I’ve written up some tips that may help learners make the most of MOOCs.

In this post I’d like to present some opinions, from a developing-country perspective, on the implications of MOOCs for higher education.

What is one of the top concerns for most students in higher education, no matter where they live? Job prospects. Some students no doubt are thinking about further studies, becoming an entrepreneur, joining a family business, taking a break, and so on, but getting a job is certainly on the minds of most young people in higher education. They hope that after they finish studies they will get a good job.

Further, in some developing countries, the “job potential” of an academic discipline is a very important consideration in choosing a major or specialization at university. In India, for example, degree programs in engineering and medicine are highly sought-after because graduates can expect relatively well-paying and secure jobs.

Let’s consider employers. They often want an academic qualification as a basic requirement, but that’s generally to shortlist people for tests and interviews, where skills matter — not just knowledge. How much does traditional higher education do to give people skills for the “real world”? It’s easy to brush aside this question and talk about how going to university is an important rite of passage for students everywhere. But who knows, a time might come when students will choose to learn through MOOCs instead of going to university. Wait a minute, that time might not be far off: Georgia Tech and Udacity have just announced a master’s program in computer science delivered through MOOCs.

My feeling is that students will increasingly behave like consumers as they are given more choices on a global scale. They’ll want value for money, they’ll want to feel good, and they’ll want results. If MOOCs offer all of these as well as options to obtain degrees, traditional higher education could have difficult challenges to deal with.

Universities might need to consider whether students will indeed evolve to be consumers of this kind, and what they might need to do to keep up.

Finally, here’s a case study of a teacher who used an edX MOOC to teach students in Mongolia. Could this kind of blended learning become more common?

To conclude this series of posts, I think MOOCs can lead to educational development, but possibly in unpredictable and disruptive ways.

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About Ravi Murugesan

I live in India and I'm an INASP Associate. I work for the AuthorAID project, mostly as a trainer, and I spend a lot of time on INASP's online learning platform.
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2 Responses to MOOCs and educational development: Part 6

  1. avatar reachpriya.p says:

    Hi Ravi,
    Very interesting to read your experience of MOOCs. I am a PhD student and I am currently doing a mini research project on “The role of MOOCs and similar online learning environments in improving social inclusion in 3rd world countries”; I am looking to collect some data from a few people who have taken MOOC courses Will you be kind enough to participate in my study? It will be a small questionnaire.
    Thanks,
    Priya