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Sunday, October 18, 2015

MOOCs haven't lived up to the hopes and the hype, Stanford participants say

"Massive online classes for virtually everyone were supposed to change the world of education, but it hasn't worked out that way yet, say three Stanford professors who have been involved since the beginning." summarizes Dan Stober, Science Writer.

Online learning hasn't lived up to its original billing, Stanford experts say, but it has produced unexpected insights into how people learn. 
Photo: Stanford University News

Three years after a groundswell of online learning swept through higher education, Stanford researchers who were at the forefront of the movement have concluded that online learning has not been the cure-all that many educators had hoped for. Nonetheless, the techniques developed for online learning may lead to great advances in how students learn, both online and in conventional classrooms.

The vision was of unlimited online courses, available to virtually anyone with an Internet connection, that would dramatically reshape the standard classroom while also changing the life paths of students in developing countries, at little or no cost.

But it hasn't worked out that way, say Stanford professors John Mitchell, Candace Thille and Mitchell Stevens, who have been deeply involved in the effort.

Completion rates remain low. Even offering high-level online classes from major universities doesn't necessarily work; without a solid academic background, the classes may be too difficult for many students to follow.

As a result, most MOOC (massive open online course) students have been college-educated men from industrialized countries.

The researchers say it is frustrating that MOOCs can provide educators the technical ability to watch as online learners fail. "We see people struggling and there really isn't any mechanism to help them," said Mitchell, Stanford's vice provost for teaching and learning.

Source: Stanford University News