Survey Finds Skepticism Among Faculty Over Online MOOC Quality

As the world's leading universities move toward launching online courses and teaming up with massive open online course (MOOC) providers such as Udacity, edX and ‎Coursera, a new survey by Inside Higher Ed has found skepticism among faculty members about the quality of MOOCs, according to Doug Lederman and Scott Jaschik.

The new Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology found that most faculty members are skeptical about the value of online learning and want to be sure that campus faculties control decision-making over how the courses are used and that accreditors review their quality.

The survey of 2,251 professors, conducted by Gallup, also finds that only one in five of faculty agree that online courses can achieve learning outcomes equivalent to those of in-person courses. The majority considers online learning to be of lower quality than in-person courses on several key measures.

But, importantly, appreciation for the quality and effectiveness of online learning grows with instructors' experiences with it. The growing minority of professors who themselves had taught at least one course online (30 percent of respondents, up from 25 percent last year) were far likelier than their peers who had not done so to believe that online courses can produce learning outcomes at least equivalent to those of face-to-face courses; 50 percent of them agree or strongly agree that online courses in their own department or discipline produce equivalent learning outcomes to in-person courses, compared to just 13 percent of professors who have not taught online.

The survey asked professors to rate factors that contribute to quality in online education. The majority of faculty members said that an online program offered by an accredited institution is an indicator of quality. About 6 in 10 said that an online program should be offered by an institution that also offers in-person instruction.

Only 45% said that it is very important that the online education is offered for credit, and about 3 in 10 said that it is very important whether the offering institution is nonprofit. "Technology administrators, by contrast, are far likelier to associate quality with academic credit, with 63 percent citing that as a very important indicator of quality in online education."

According to the survey, 30 percent of faculty respondents say they have taught online. Of those who have never taught an online course, 30 percent say the main reason they haven't is because they've never been asked.

09 6, 2013
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