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MOOC Experimentation Alive and Well in Higher Ed


In many ways, the debate whether MOOCs will succeed is premised on an exceedingly narrow idea of what a MOOC is or can be. An article in the Wall Street Journal illustrates just how early it still is to be proclaiming how this new technology will be impact higher education:

Two University of Texas at Austin professors this week launched their introductory psychology class from a makeshift studio, with a goal of eventually enrolling 10,000 students at $550 a pop and bringing home millions for the school.

The professors have dubbed the class a SMOC—Synchronous Massive Online Class—and their effort falls somewhere between a MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course, a late-night television show and a real-time research experiment. The professors lecture into a camera and students watch on their computers or mobile devices, in real time.

We have no idea whether this or any other new teaching model will work, but we do know that the ferment of experiment in US higher ed will change the learning experience for the better, ultimately giving students more choices at better prices. The evidence that even academia, where the blue model is king, is responding creatively to new technological opportunities is one of the many hopeful signs suggesting that the secret sauce that made America great is still with us today.

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  • meredithk

    Another approach, which I believe is more feasible, is the flipped classroom approach, where students watch lectures on their own time and spend classroom time in discussion and labs. This is what Texas A&M is doing in its new initiative to increase its engineering enrollment from 11,000 today to 25,000 by 2025.

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