If education were free, what would MOOCs be?

Martin Weller, Program for Online Teaching, May 23, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Interesting thought experiment. "If there were no students fees and higher education were free, what would that do to MOOCs? I mean, obviously it'll never happen... oh, wait, Germany just abolished student fees. Yeah, but what do they know about running an economy, right?" If I were in Germany, would my priorities be changed? I'm not sure, partially because MOOCs are as much about alternative pedagogy as they are about access (but, crucially, they are about access, and that thought is never far from my mind). But in a world of free? Most likely, as Holden comments, "possibly, MOOCs as support and community around traditional classes?" Because access isn't just about opening doors, it's also about makiing sure people are successful once they enter.

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