Coursera Jumps the Shark
MOOC or MAAN (Much Ado About Nothing)?

Quote:Coursera Jumps the Shark

Posted on May 31, 2013 by Alex Usher

Remember when Coursera – the world’s largest purveyor of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – was going to disrupt higher education, and put hundreds if not thousands of public institutions out of business? I know it’s hard to cast your mind back all of eighteen months, but try.

Actually don’t. Because it’s all over. Yesterday, Coursera did a weird strategy about-face by announcing that, rather than competing with public colleges, it’s going to start competing with Blackboard instead.

We’ve been heading this way for awhile. Last summer, the all-conquering Coursera, armed with $22M or so in venture capital (VC) money, and getting free content from major educational institutions around the world (including McGill and University of Toronto), was seemingly poised to dominate education everywhere, forever, because… well… OK, this part was never clear. There seemed to be some idea that if you stuck “great professors” (i.e. big research names at big research universities) in front of a camera, eyeballs would follow. This was always preposterous – if it weren’t, University of the Air would be prime time. But, of course, nobody ever got rich telling people that the revolution wasn’t coming.

Coursera has simply never had a coherent plan to generate revenue. Oh sure, it had a bunch of ideas about how to do it, which were outlined in this leaked MOU with the University of Michigan, but few seem to have panned out. The only thing we’ve heard from Coursera is that their idea for charging people for certificates of completion netted $220,000 in Q1 of this year. Given that Coursera’s annual burn rate seems to be in the neighbourhood of $10M (that’s on top of their partners spending $50K/course to place it on the Coursera platform), this is peanuts. Allegedly, they were going to try to make money on a bunch of other things, like being scouts for businesses on the lookout for bright young talent, but there have been no announcements of revenue from these sources. Given how the tech news industry works, it’s a safe bet that means the figure is close to zero.

So now, with no money coming in, and no new round of venture financing announced since last year (attention education journalists: go interview some Coursera investors – they’re key to this story), it announced this week that it would be working with partners like the University of West Virginia and the University of New Mexico – places which Coursera swore in writing to its AAU/U-15/Russell Group partners that it would never allow to offer MOOCS, because it would taint the brand. Together with these institutions, Coursera will be developing something called “campus-based MOOCs”, which, upon closer inspection, is completely indistinguishable from what we’ve called “blended learning” for roughly a decade now.

And so the revolution ends with a whimper, not with a roar.
Brings back memories of e-University in the UK about a dozen years ago. It burned through 62 million Pounds while barely enrolling a student. Developing the computer platform was reported to be as high as 20 to 30 million Pounds although the attached articles claims 9.5 million. They probably could have licensed software for a pittance or used Moodle for free. Endless schools successfully use Moodle.

I remain amazed how start-up schools with money can blow endless quantities and it happens time after time. Nothing more needs to be discovered in distance learning. People could give a crap about academic quality. If they did, they'd be at Harvard. Make it easily available, user friendly, and market the hell out of it.
Good point, Fort Bragger. A similar situation was the University of Illinois Global Campus, another major fail for Illinois taxpayers.

Too bad U of I can't find some idle science teacher to stalk, defame, extort, hack and violate the civil rights of the people responsible for such frivolity.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

UMUC apparently hasn't heard that MOOCs have jumped the shark. What do they know that SJSU and CSU don't?

Quote:August 2nd, 2013
University of Maryland University College to offer credit for MOOCs
By Jake New, Assistant Editor

University of Maryland University College (UMUC) believes it will be the first university in the Maryland system to let students earn academic credit for taking a massive open online course (MOOC).

But if the experiment is successful, UMUC won’t be a rarity for just the state; it will be an anomaly for all of American higher education.

Recent attempts by other institutions to offer credit for MOOCs have not gone smoothly. Last year, Colorado State University-Global Campus began offering credit for a computer science MOOC. Nearly a year later, no students have taken advantage of the deeply discounted course.

San Jose State University announced in May that their partnership with Coursera to offer for-credit MOOCs was being “paused” after many students had trouble passing the courses.

So what does UMUC think it can do differently?

“We’re an adult-friendly institution,” said Cynthia Davis, UMUC’s undergraduate dean. “I think that’s really the important thing that’s positioned us to do it successfully.”

As UMUC is specifically focused on adult learners who are older, less conventional students, Davis said, the university already accepts many forms of non-traditional academic credit and has systems in place for evaluating more experiential learning.

The crediting process for MOOCs would be “fairly simple” for a university like UMUC, she said.

“Very traditional schools who assume that students will get the degrees from them from beginning to end, it’s going to be hard for them to figure out MOOCs fit into what they do,” Davis said. “But schools used to non-traditional and transfer credit, it makes it simpler.”

The university will offer credit for the learning obtained through six MOOCs provided by the platforms Coursera and Udacity. The MOOCs are all introductory math and science courses that have already been evaluated and recommended for credit by the American Council for Education.

In order to earn the credits, students will have to prove their competency by taking standardized exams at a test center. UMUC will also allow students to earn credit through its portfolio review process, Bob Ludwig, the university’s assistant vice president of media relations, said.

While students will have to pay whatever fees Coursera and Udacity charge for testing their competency, UMUC will not charge any additional money for earning the credits.

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen with MOOCs,” Davis said. “A lot of schools are trying to get their arms around what they mean. But we’re excited that there’s another way for students to learn and that we can accommodate it.”
MOOCs get the universities all excited because they think they can dispense with faculty and increase thier bottom line HOWEVER no one wants a canned lesson. It's been tried since the 1920's with courses via phonograph, movie, radio, and broadcast and cc TV. Fails every time...

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