MOOCs Enhance, Rather Than Replace, Traditional Classroom


A study co-authored by Wharton professor Ezekiel J. Emanuel concerning the impact of MOOCs on traditional business education found that MOOCs actually complement and enrich a traditional education rather than taking students away from brick-and-mortar schools.

In a recent interview concerning the impact of MOOCs, Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng said they allow universities to carry their content through to a much larger audience than they ever could have before.

Coursera CEO Rick Levin agreed with the sentiment during an interview with Poets & Quants. Rather than putting traditional schools out of business, he believes that employers will begin to understand the value behind taking online courses and reward their employees for the training with promotions, pay raises, and other opportunities.

He went on to say that any disruption to college life will come much later, affecting only commuter colleges that are not known for instilling an engagement between students and faculty members.

Levin added that global rankings of universities could consider the number of people around the world who have been touched by an institution's professors. In doing so, a university's status would become partially dependent on the number of students they can reach, which could be increased exponentially by utilizing online learning.

When he first took the position of CEO, Levin said he was surprised to find that the prevalent thought pertaining to MOOCs was that they were there to enhance traditional, on-campus classes. He said the main point should be that they offer course access to millions of people around the world, writes John A. Byrne for Fortune.

"One of the surprises was how few other universities had yet grasped the potential in the broad outreach that MOOCs make possible. We did them at Yale in 2007 and one of the obvious benefits was enhancing access to education. It was to give opportunity to tens of thousands of people who wouldn't have had it. About 73% of our learners are outside the U.S. and about half of those are in emerging economies," said Levin.

Since the massive open online course platform Coursera was first created in 2012, it has established over 12 million users who are enrolled in over 1,000 courses from over 100 institutions around the world.

Earlier in the week, a number of "specializations" were announced by Coursera that allow schools to offer a particular set of courses along with a project. Just this week, the platform announced its first MBA degree based on MOOCs in partnership with the University of Illinois College of Business.

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