online courses
September 6, 2013

The MOOC Debate


Scott: As students across the country head back to school, some only have to head as far as their computers. Now, online courses are usually offered to college students. But what happens when students taking those classes aren’t scoring as well or even finishing them? Maggie Rulli takes a look.

Maggie: Would you rather take classes in the classroom or at home?

Teen: Well, I’d rather take in the classroom.

Teen: I think online at home sounds great.

Maggie: Well, millions of people of all ages and from all around the world are taking their learning to the web and taking advantage of MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses.

MOOCs are often free, and each class usually has open enrollment, meaning thousands of students can take the class at the same time. In some classes, enrollment has reached as high as 230,000 students.

The governor of California has said he believes these courses could help college students save money and even graduate faster.

Governor Jerry Brown: The longer you stay, the more you spend. So this is a big, huge problem with student debt approaching a trillion dollars.

Maggie: Now, many well-known colleges and universities across the country, places like Harvard, MIT, Duke and UC Berkeley, offer MOOCs. And they are available for anyone who wants to take them.

Professor Clint Korver: I’ve got students from all over the world.

Maggie: Clint Korver has been teaching entrepreneurship at Stanford for four years. But now that he offers his classes online, he is no longer confined to one room and his classes are open to tens of thousands of students.

While some people say that MOOCs could help students with the soaring cost of college, these online courses still have plenty of critics. Ninety percent of the students who start a MOOC don’t finish it. Critics say that is because there is little accountability for a student’s success and no face-to-face interaction between students.

San Jose University suspended some of its MOOCs after more than half the students failed the online classes. Some say the problems can be fixed by adding student collaboration to online courses, like the new program NovoEd.

Amin Saberi: If you look at Massive Open Online Courses, the completion rate is typically low, in single digits. On NovoEd, the completion rates are significantly higher, typically two times or three times the normal.

Maggie: Professor Korver uses NovoEd. And in his class, students select their courses, watch recorded classes, and team up on group projects, often working together over email, on Skype or in Google hangouts. Once students finish a MOOC, they normally receive a certification but rarely get course credit. But for some students, it is about more than just a credit.

Student: I think learning is something we should be doing our whole lives, not just for four years in college.

Maggie: Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.


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