MOOCs may soon be coming to a physical classroom near you. Dominican University of California will be the first to offer a “hub,” in partnership with MOOC-provider Coursera, where students can meet in person and receive tutoring from “course facilitators.” Since November, Coursera has established hubs in other countries, among them India and Kenya, but Dominican’s hub will be the first inside the United States. Inside Higher Ed reports:
The program is a product of [Coursera's] partnership with the U.S. Department of State and a number of educational organizations in countries such as India, Kenya and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, among others. The New York Public Library will host a second domestic hub.
Since their launch in November, the hubs have made a case for a more hands-on approach to teaching MOOC content. Completion rates among students who participate in them range between 30 and 100 percent, Coursera reported, compared to the dismal (and much-debated) 6.8 percent average rate seen across all of the courses offered by Coursera’s partner institutions. More than half of the hubs are located in emerging countries, providing students there with free Internet access.
Whether the hub will become a permanent feature at Dominican has yet to be determined, but as an “experiment of how to use MOOC content as a textbook replacement” the trial seems well worth it. Many professors would probably welcome the development of free course materials designed for classroom use.
Coursera and Dominican represent a model for future partnerships between MOOC providers and brick-and-mortar schools. For now, the university is providing the space to students without charge. But in future, universities could charge students a small fee for the use of classrooms, housing, teachers, and perhaps even meals, while the students take all of their classes online. (In a recent WSJ article, Glenn Reynolds referred to this sort of arrangement as “hoteling.”) In fact, a school could even organize a degree program that uses MOOCs as all or most of the content, while providing only minimal oversight. Look for MOOCs to make further appearances on non-virtual campuses in the near future.