NIC to explore massive open online courses
David Brands, Staff Writer
December 9, 2012
NIC is considering massive open online courses (MOOCs) to provide students with potential venues to receive college credit.
“This could be a revolutionary development in higher education, and MOOCs could teach us a lot about how to develop high-quality online learning experiences that complement face-to-face instruction,” said Josh Jarrett, senior program officer for postsecondary success in the U.S. program of the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation.
Jarrett said that MOOCs still have a long way to go to fulfill this vision, but the potential is there.
Because MOOCs have the potential to increase access to and reduce the costs of education, NIC faculty are being asked to serve on a task force to research and develop a strategy with regard to offering NIC credit to students who have successfully completed a MOOC, said Kathie O’Brien, instructor of technology.
O’Brien organized a group that would work with administration, staff and faculty to look into the possibilities of MOOCs at NIC with the goal of faculty representation from a variety of divisions.
Through the leadership of Lita Burns, vice president of instruction, NIC plans to look at these courses in terms of content and how they might apply in terms of credit for students, with the idea of making sure that the institution’s education continues to remain affordable and accessible, O’Brien said.
These classes are offered on many different topics, often by highly qualified university professors, and have a variety of purposes, O’Brien said.
MOOCs provide free online college-level courses to anyone with Internet access in a variety of subjects ranging from advanced math and computer science to social science and humanities courses.
MOOC providers consist primarily of university consortia or university-affiliated institutions such as Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, and Columbia.
MOOC courses, like conventional college courses, progress sequentially in difficulty, enabling the student to develop from beginner to advanced.
To test the individuals enrolled, frequent quizzes and mid-course or end-of-course exams are administered. The exams are then graded by peer groups or other students taking the same course.
Currently, MOOCs do not offer college credit or count toward an undergraduate or graduate degree. Instead, they are aimed at people who want to gain valuable skills and knowledge for enjoyment or practical use.
However, many MOOC providers have been working to move forward and award degrees thus tapping into the vast market for college, graduate, and professional education, said the Becker-Posner Blog.
MOOCs are a recent development and most of them have only been around for a couple of years.
The Becker-Posner Blog said the movement toward online higher education could have an enormous impact on American higher education, comparable to the impact the Internet has had on bookstores and publishers. And the results could mean a considerable consolidation of colleges and universities.