Category Archives: MOOCs


Can Online Education Help Refugees Earn Degrees?

When refugees want to enter higher education, they often lack the paperwork.

To enroll in conventional universities, students need to submit the kind of documentation — like passports and previous education records — that many refugees do not have. And even when refugees are able to provide the required documentation, tuition is often out of their price range.

But in the past few months, some online universities have been reaching out to those students, telling refugees that they don’t have to…


What the Results of a Survey of Coursera Students Mean for Online Learning

When Coursera, Udacity, and edX started up within four months of one another, in 2012, The New York Times declared it the year of the MOOC. Now that the clamor is dying down, researchers are gauging what actually has developed in terms of massive open online courses.

A report released this week draws on a survey of Coursera students to look at their motivations and what kinds of educational and career results they are seeing. Published in the Harvard Business Review, it is the first study of Cou…


In Online Courses, Students Learn More by Doing Than by Watching

When students enroll in MOOCs, they almost always watch a series of video lectures. But just watching videos — without also engaging interactively — is an ineffective way to learn, according to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

The study, “Learning Is Not a Spectator Sport: Doing Is Better Than Watching for Learning From a MOOC,” looked at a generally available course, offered through the Georgia Institute of Technology, called “Introduction to Psychology as a Science.” Some …


As Coursera Evolves, Colleges Stay On and Investors Buy In

Three years ago everyone was talking about Coursera, which had begun partnering with some of the world’s most elite colleges to offer free courses. There was overheated hype, as pundits speculated that it could be a magic bullet to bring down college costs. And there were tough questions, as people wondered what the goal was for partner colleges, and how the Silicon Valley company could make enough revenue on free courses to survive.

Today the MOOC hype has dissipated, but the company’s leader…


Pioneer of Ed-Tech Innovation Says He’s Frustrated by Disruptors’ Narrative

George Siemens is a key innovator in higher education, having coined the term “MOOC” and worked to study the effectiveness of online learning. So it’s no surprise that he was invited to a recent closed-door gathering at the White House to discuss “innovation and quality in higher education.”

Though he isn’t able to divulge details of what transpired, he wrote about the meeting on his blog, in a post filled with strong feelings about some of what he heard there. The post uses such words as “stu…


Art Schools Go MOOC, With a New Online Platform

A new company is jumping into MOOCs, but with a focus on teaching free courses in the arts.

The new virtual art school, called Kadenze, has already teamed up with programs at 18 institutions, including Stanford and Princeton Universities, to create a digital platform designed for arts courses. According to a company co-founder, Perry R. Cook, an emeritus professor at Princeton, the platform will be “multimedia rich” and allow students to create online portfolios, upload music files and scanned a…


Students in Free Courses Study, but Not as Much as Most Students Do

Most students in free online courses don’t spend as much time doing classwork as do traditional college students, but they do log a significant number of hours, according to a new survey of more than 4,500 MOOC students by Class Central, a website that reviews free courses.

More than 55 percent of the students surveyed said they studied two to five hours per week, and 22 percent said they spent six to 10 hours per week studying.

How does that compare with traditional college students? About 43 p…


Amid Fast Change, Group Seems Slow to Enhance Colleges’ Control of Online Courses

Last spring a group of university leaders announced a bold, new project intended to help colleges gain more control of their online course platforms, as they increasingly turned to providers like Coursera or edX. A year later some observers are wondering what the group has actually accomplished, and where the consortium is headed.

In June 2014, amid growing concern that outside companies were exerting too much influence on the branding and shaping of universities’ online course offerings, four…


What Does ‘Personalized Learning’ Look Like? Video Series Aims to Go Beyond Hype

An education blog whose authors believe there’s too much hype around “personalized learning” technology has posted a series of video case studies about the trend, hoping to help get beyond overheated rhetoric.

The result is an unusual look at five colleges trying high-tech classroom experiments and wrestling with how new teaching methods change the role of students and teachers.

The videos were produced by the education-technology blog e-Literate, with the support of a $350,000 grant from the B…


A MOOC Hopes to Sink Its Teeth Into a New Audience: TV Fans

Vampires are everywhere these days — books, television shows, movies. And now, a MOOC.

The University of California at Irvine plans to offer a four-week MOOC based on the FX television series The Strain, which follows the spread of a disease with the “hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism.” The course, “Fight or Die: The Science Behind FX’s The Strain,” will be hosted on Instructure’s MOOC platform Canvas Network.

Three Irvine faculty members will teach the course, which will focu…