MOOCs and Community Colleges:Ready or Not Here Comes Disruptive Change

April 23, 2013

medium_6192423704This weekend I attended the American Association of Community Colleges in San Francisco. I wondered how MOOCs would influence the agenda to reinvent the student experience.  AACC focused a program track on progress made taking action on the report Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future.  The report from the 21st Century Commission calls out redesigning the student educational experience as one of the strategic pillars for reimagining the community college. Here are two questions to consider:

How do MOOCs intersect with the 21st Century Initiative Implementation?

Nine teams have been deployed to guide and evaluate progress toward nationwide implementation of the 21st-Centrury Report Initiatives. MOOCs are an important option for community colleges to consider across the continuum of the student experience. One implementation team is focused on reimagining pathways for student success. I attended this team’s session on their progress.  Participants were energized and the discussion was lively. I sensed this team would be open to incorporating examination of this innovative solution to reinvent student success pathways. Wake Technical Community College is an example of a first mover in partnering with MOOCs provider, Udacity. Together Wake Tech and Udacity are testing how to revolutionize developmental education using MOOCs.

Are there costs for Community Colleges associated with MOOCs being offered for “FREE?”

There is absolutely a cost associated with “free.” So far, the dialogue for MOOCs is focused on teaching and learning on a global scale. Questions about what “free” means in delivery are still being formulated. As delivery continues to ramp up and discussions focus on faculty and student engagement in MOOCs, the conversation will quickly move to student support services. Student support in MOOCs courses requires re-thinking the services business model.  How can the current student services support framework either adapt or innovate in real ways? How can the student services support model align with how students interacts with the community college- not how the institution interacts with students?

The MOOCs question is important to the future of community colleges, however, there are broader organization questions that need to be considered in tandem.

Are you interested in having a conversation about how your institution considers the MOOCs question? Contact me at [email protected].

photo credit: York College of PA via photopin cc


6 Responses to “MOOCs and Community Colleges:Ready or Not Here Comes Disruptive Change”
  1. Cal State made a test at San Jose with edx course. Test was good . So 11 CSU made an agreement with EDX also tıo start some MOOCs.
    I suggest 110 CCs should make an arrangement with edx. Even edx can develop special online courses for CCs.
    The reason CCs are 2.5 millionstudents .
    Even a a course developed at $ 1 million can be amortised very easily. Cost per student is less than $ 1 in 5 years .
    CCs of California is a great test tract of edx .
    Governor Brown please do not lose the chance .
    If every student takes 5 online MOOCs courses
    1.- Tuition will be halved
    2.- Quality will be increased due to elite schools
    3.- There will be room 100 % more at colleges
    4.- There will be less traffic on the roads .!!!!!!!!!

  2. Denise says:

    I can really get behind MOOCs as an option to broaden course availability and lower tuition costs. A big “however” is, from my experience, many students from low-income backgrounds have less tech savvy due to lack of resources and many of those who are academically underprepared need closer guidance than can be provided by online course delivery. The struggle is then how can we make MOOCs an opportunity rather than a quick fix to financial constraints?

  3. Dianna Sadlouskos says:

    Denise- You bring up an excellent point about low student success probability in MOOCs courses without additional guidance and support. My contention is the support ecosystem needs to be front loaded to onboard students with considerable resources to navigate the online educational experience. The truth is, MOOCs is course delivery mechanism that is part of a larger delivery strategy. All institutions need to consider how student support services need to be innovated to enable student success. Much of the innovation has been in course delivery strategies- I think there is much work to be done through the lens of the student experience.

  4. Dianna, I suspect that increasingly community colleges will wrap courses around MOOCs and use them like textbooks. This way students will have access to great instruction and will have the benefit of live classroom discussion with an instructor and their peers. In this way, MOOCs can be used as a flipped classroom.

  5. Howard Doughty says:

    Like any new and loudly touted learning technology, the frenzy over MOOC’s is hard to avoid. There are “true believers” galore and even some of the skeptics concede that at least some of the offerings are of pretty high quality … if you like that sort of thing.

    I am not going to debate the pedagogy itself, but I am going to make three claims:

    1. MOOCs, like any other pre-packaged entertainment, are commodities which allow limited, if any, “interaction” (ugly word) and do not require but certainly discourage authentic critical discourse;

    2. MOOCs further marginalize teachers (already 75% of whom are part-time, adjunct or otherwise contract faculty) which does nothing for education but certainly grows the fiscal bottom line;

    3. MOOCs are the equivalent of steam-looms at the outset of the industrial revolution, for they militate against artisanship (cf. professionalism), facilitate standardization, conformity and ultimately boredom among students while decimating faculty ranks.

    MOOCs are less about teaching and learning than about transforming academics into what my friend, the late David Noble, called Digital Diploma Mills.

    I’m not predicting success, but I am encouraging dissent. It is high time for some Educational Luddism. After all, despite all the bad history written about them, the Luddites were not romantic reactionaries trying to stop “progress”; they were spirited defended of a way of life who asked only that, in the factory system truly created material well-being, then the benefits should be shared equitably and not be appropriated by the factories alone.

    The factory owners, however, dominated education then as today. So the Luddites have been exposed mainly to the “enormous condescension of posterity”; while we are still sentient and communicative, we must speak out so that “posterity may know, we did not – loosely through silence, let things slip away as in a dream.”

    Surely, friends, though we stand in the maw of postmodernity, we can still think of a strategy more ennobling than a pre-emptive cringe.

  6. Mark Tarte says:

    Who determines the validity of the course content? Instructors using this process or the textbook industry, which are the driving force behind MOOCs via their lobbyists in Sacramento and DC? Are we to lower our academic standards to accept MOOCs? Frankly, this is just one more thing foisted upon higher education, especially community colleges by persons who have no experience as educators.

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