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Recently, conversations about "elite" online education has revolved around the free online courses, aka MOOCs, which Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and dozens of other top universities started offering several years ago. But it soon became clear that high marks in those courses would not translate to academic credit at the institutions offering them (or anywhere else).
So how exactly does online education figure into the future of elite higher education? Judging by what we’ve seen so far, the answer can be divided into three parts.
1. Free online courses for everyone.
MOOCs are the McMansions of online higher education — capacious, impressive-looking, and easy to supply to the masses once professors have drawn up the blueprints.
Families who want to work with the architects directly are not opting for a sequence of free online courses instead of an exclusive residential program that ends with a degree. Even if the MOOCs lose money, wealthier universities can afford to take a hit — especially if it means increasing their visibility in valuable overseas markets.
Despite their flagging hype, MOOCs remain very popular. Top institutions will probably continue to build them.
Source: Chronicle of Higher Education