The big news this week is that Arizona Statue University will in effect replace first year studies with MOOCs (that's probably an overstatement, but it will do for now). This article draws out some implications and major underlying issues (these are all quoted from the article):
- Prior learning assessment -- the mechanism by which credit is granted -- is not covered by financial aid.
- there’s nothing stopping someone now from taking a MOOC in a “gen ed” area and then taking a CLEP exam to get credit.
- ASU took a nasty funding cut from the state, and responded by growing its reach (contrast with LSU, which is attempting to survive though massive cuts)
- the edX partnership allows ASU to move failures off-book, thereby keeping its success rates high.
- many of us in higher ed think of it as an ecosystem. ASU may have decided that it’s actually a Hobbesian war of each against all
- the partnership is a desperate attempt to provide something resembling a business model for MOOCs.
In my view, higher education institutions should consider themselves lucky that the MOOCs provided by EdX are replacing first year. There will not be much talk of expanding the model, and the failure rate will we high, Had something like the Connectivist MOOCs and the cooperative approach taken hold, the damage to traditional institutions would have been much greater, as students would have propelled each other to success in spite of, not because of, the institution.
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