National survey questions longevity of MOOCs

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Tribune file photo.

Tribune file photo.

Marquette’s first Massive Open Online Course enrolled more than 3,000 students from 45 different countries, but a recent survey questions whether such courses are effective or sustainable.

The survey, published by the Babson Survey Research Group, found that many academic leaders are skeptical about the sustainability of MOOCs, where only 23 percent of those surveyed believed such a course could be offered in the long run.

According to the official survey, “The chief academic officers at institutions with the greatest experience and exposure to traditional online instruction are the least likely to believe in the long-term future of MOOCs.”

David Krause, a professor of finance and the creator of Marquette’s first MOOC, Intro to Applied Investing, is a little more optimistic than those polled in the survey. Krause said he was pleased with the first MOOC and hopes to offer others in the near future.

“I believe the market is casting its vote on MOOCs, and the exit surveys are indicating it is a winner,” Krause said in an email. “I’ll step out on a limb, but I believe we are on the verge of a dramatic change in the delivery of higher education.”

Jacob Ruegger, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, did not take the MOOC in applied investing but feels it would be a worthwhile investment.

“I’ve been looking into it because it will give me a sort-of head-start into my other business classes,” Ruegger said. “Plus it’s free.”

Krause is equally excited about the course costing nothing. He said offering more MOOCs to people all over the world may be a solution to the rising rich-poor gap.

“One of the major reasons for the improvement in income equality near the end of the Industrial Revolution was because public education was provided to all citizens,” Krause said. “Who knows, maybe MOOCs for everyone will prove this time around to be a key in equalizing global incomes.”

According to the official survey, though, most MOOCs do not offer college credits, which may lead to confusion about higher education degrees. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed were concerned about such confusion.

Still, Krause sees a legitimate reason to offer MOOCs, since if nothing else, they at least offer a departure from traditional in-class learning.

“We need less rote-learning and more critical thinking, and I believe that in-class instruction coupled with online technology is the answer,” Krause said.

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