The Best Way For Schools To Address The Challenge of Disruptive Technological Change In Higher Education

In previous postings we have identified the potential and risk of schools responding to disruptive technological change in higher education by building their own online courses or by giving their students credit for MOOCs.  We have shown that both responses have significant costs and risks that outweigh benefits, so that neither course of action can be recommended. Because of the significant concerns addressed in previous postings, it is an error for most colleges and universities to urge or require professors to put courses online.   Schools shouldn’t try to build online courses themselves.  Schools lack the IT capability; and professors have no idea how to build good online courses.  To train… Read More

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Using Professionally Prepared Online Courses

The value added to students by a college or university in learning (as opposed to sports or socialization or networking) arises from good instruction and the interaction of each student with other students about academic topics.  This value added has long been recognized to be consistent with the provision of most if not all content via commercially produced and marketed textbooks.   There should be no difference with respect to professionally prepared online courses. The role of good professional builders of courses is to enable instructors to teach better by giving them good content, good presentation, good tools, and engaging students thoroughly. There are two general types of professionally prepared online… Read More

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Giving Degree Credit For MOOCs

Should a school give academic credit toward its own degree(s) to students who successfully complete MOOCs?   It might seem that to do so is a way for a school to broaden its academic offerings and improve the quality of its online courses.   For a school to give credit to students for a few MOOCs might seem a good idea. But a school is likely to want to limit academic credit given for MOOCs or it risks having too few proprietary elements to its own degree.   There are schools that give their own degrees for courses completed elsewhere or for demonstrated competence – often earned in courses given at other schools… Read More

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Evaluating a Representative MOOC Against 13 Characteristics Of A Good Online Course

  Let us evaluate the quality of what we may consider a representative MOOC against the list of the characteristics of good online courses which we have offered previously. 1.  A GOOD ONLINE COURSE IS COMPLETE, NOT JUST A GROUP OF COURSE MATERIALS Many MOOCs are complete courses, but some are essentially a group of course materials, often gathered around a set of lectures but without connective elements. 2.  A GOOD ONLINE COURSE HAS CONTENT THAT IS UP TO DATE, COMPREHENSIVE AND APPROPRIATE TO INSTRUCTOR AND STUDENT Many MOOCs have up to date and comprehensive content, but the content may go far beyond the capabilities of instructors and students at… Read More

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Considering MOOCs

If a college takes seriously the challenges offered by disruptive technological innovations in higher education, it has three options: A.   BUILD ONLINE COURSES B.   GIVE CREDIT FOR MOOCs C.   ACQUIRE PROFESSIONALLY-BUILT ONLINE COURSES We have discussed in previous postings the opportunities, complexities and risks of a school trying to build its own online courses. MOOCs, particularly when offered through a consortium of universities or through a for-profit firm, are a form of professionally prepared online courses.  For schools struggling to respond to the challenge of disruptive technological change in higher education, MOOCs may seem attractive.  They are said to be free.  They are often prepared by recognized experts and bear the… Read More

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Let Faculty Members Teach

If schools decide not to insist that faculty members produce their own online courses, for the many cogent reasons we’ve set forth in previous posts, then deans may ask, “What will I do with my faculty members?” The answer to this question is let them teach. Yes, faculty members should teach.   They should teach well.  They should be assisted in learning how to teach well.  They should teach well in the class room, online, and in blended courses. Teaching is very important.  Good teaching is the mechanism via which most students learn.   Many schools stress the interaction of faculty with students as the core of their education process.   For the… Read More

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There Is No Technological Fix Which Will Permit Most Schools To Build Effective Online Courses Despite The Problems We Have Identified Previously

There is a confusion that thinks that the key to building good online courses is a software platform or software that can capture content off the web for inclusion in online courses to be built at a school.   The notion is that if a school has a good, up-to-date platform and learning system, it can build good online courses, if it so desires.  Many people think schools that have up-to-date technology platforms and content search capability should build online courses. But this is an illusion – a technocratic illusion.   Software is only a part of the task of building online courses — course design, course navigation, course interactivity with students,… Read More

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Monetizing The Intellectual Property Embedded In Online Courses

Could the intellectual property embedded in online courses which is owned by a school be monetized directly — that is, could it be sold in the course?   Possibly, if the course is sold to students either at the school or at others schools which might offer the course.   In either case, the school effectively becomes a publisher and retailer of online courses.   In effect, the school becomes a professional preparer of online courses competing with other schools and with for-profit and not-for-profit corporations which do the same.   The school, therefore, enters the electronic publishing business. To do so successfully it will have to invest in its efforts, hire managerial and… Read More

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Can Schools Capture Significant Amounts Of Value From The Intellectual Property In The Content Of Online Courses?

There are two significant issues to be addressed in obtaining a reliable answer to the question of whether or not schools can capture significant amounts of value from the intellectual property in the content of online courses. First, for most schools, will there be significant quantities of intellectual property embodied in online courses built by the schools’ faculty members?  Second, if there is significant intellectual property embodied in online courses created by a school, will the school be able to monetize and capture some or all of that value? For some schools there will be significant intellectual value creation when online courses are built by faculty members.  Harvard, for example,… Read More

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Who Owns The Intellectual Property Embodied In Online Courses?

The content of online courses is intellectual property.  Does it have significant value?   If so, who owns it?   If it is the college or university, can the value be captured for the benefit of the school? These are important considerations that will concern us at this point in our discussion of institutions’ alternative responses to disruptive technological change. It is clear that most institutions will want to own the intellectual property embodied in online courses created by their faculty members.   Traditionally, the content of a textbook belonged to the author, not to the college or university at which he or she was employed.   This remains the case today at most… Read More

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