MOOC’s are here to stay, and they are going to bring a massive change to how and where students learn now and in the future, or it is certainly looking that way considering what we hear from the US.


HE Institutions in the US have been feeling the sweeping MOOC effect since Stanford drew in thousands of online students to their free computer-science courses in 2011. A recent survey by The Chronicle asked long established Professors if they believed MOOC’s were worth the ‘hype’ and 79 % said YES. Almost half surveyed also said that their online courses were as academically rigorous as the ones they taught in the classroom. A desire to increase access to higher education worldwide is often the motivation driving Professors to get online as is the opportunity to raise their profile and visibility to a much larger audience, not to mention the fear of being left behind if they don’t get involved.


The issues of accreditation and the financial implications of MOOC’s at the present time being a free resource, are still evolving and are likely to rumble on for a while yet, as is the issue of MOOC’s moving into the corporate learning space.


As the IPPR publication (Barber, Donnelly and Rizvi) an Avalanche is Coming, Higher Education and the Revolution Ahead puts it:

University leaders need to take control of their own destiny and seize the opportunities open to them through technology – Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for example – to provide broader, deeper and more exciting education. Leaders will need to have a keen eye toward creating value for their students.”


The UK has been seriously slow to recognise the MOOC phenomena and education establishments in the UK will have to get their ‘skates (skis) on’ to catch up and hope to stay ahead, if they are not to miss out. The corporate learning space should also be bracing itself for MOOC’s moving in. The next few months will be interesting as the MOOC movement continues to gather speed.


Barber et al outline the compelling evidence of the acceleration of the costs of education, over and the levels of income growth as a key driving factor for MOOC adoption. This is also pointed out in the Learning Light and IBIS Capital research published in January 2013 e-learning lessons for the future


Barber et al also produced some real words of warning making a point that is in danger of being lost in all  the MOOC hype…..the attitude of the employer, to quote page 43:


“With world-class content available anytime for free, the ability of faculty to be present anywhere, and the rise of online learning as an alternative to in-person instruction, we need to reflect on the nature of teaching and learning in a higher education institution. Online learning is here to stay – 68 per cent of chief academic officers believe online courses have same or better quality as face-to-face – and a US Department of Education study concluded that: ‘On average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face to face instruction.’ The Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that employers are still skeptical about the value of online degrees, but this is likely to change over time.”


And they go on to page 48 to freely admit to being unsure how the revolution will unfold, and we would emphasise not to forget how the views of employers in how the education future will be shaped in the forthcoming debate on this undoubted education avalanche which is happening now.


Quite what will be required to change this attitude and how long it will take remains to be seen