Four Barriers That MOOCs Must Overcome To Build a Sustainable Model

Phil Hill, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, Jul 25, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The barriers, Phil Hill tells us, are as follows:

  • Developing revenue models to make the concept self-sustaining;
  • Delivering valuable signifiers of completion such as credentials, badges or acceptance into accredited programs;
  • Providing an experience and perceived value that enables higher course completion rates (most today have less than 10% of registered students actually completing the course); and
  • Authenticating students in a manner to satisfy accrediting institutions or hiring companies that the student identify is actually known.

What I read from this is that in order to be successful, MOOCs need to be like traditional learning. But what if they don't? What if it's traditional learning that needs to change:

  • to get past needing commercial model? (inexpensive education could be publicly funded!),
  • to get past certificates or degrees (data-mining a person's record tells us everything we need to know),
  • to get past completion anxiety (go in, get what you need, get out; programs are for computers, courses are for horses)
  • and to get past fingerprinting and identification cards (ID is properly a government's responsibility, not a university's).
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