Traditional notions of quality control in the classroom are being challenged, or redefined, as higher ed institutions swoon over MOOCs. MOOCs provide easy access to great educational resources; they also, as it so happens, are financially lucrative for universities as they look to technology to help them wring more out of of less every year.
The battle over MOOCs will continue to rage. My best guess of what the future holds is that a). MOOCs will spread like wildfire in higher ed. Organizations such as Coursera and Edx offer free — Free! — online resources for anyone who wants to learn, and MOOCs are marketed as a way to provide college-level knowledge at low or no cost. It is rarely mentioned that the institutions who use MOOCs also hope to save a pot of money as well by laying off teachers, maximizing per course enrollment, scaling down on facilities, etc.
I’m very interested to see how MOOCs evolve. They may be the bright lights of education’s future; they may be hot messes. Their massive enrollments make them a good fit for standardized testing, which opens up another can of worms.
For those ambitious curriculum designers who do not want to lose the ability to have students write essays, beware. This review of The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat chronicles one smart individual’s work writing essays for students. Will every essay need to pass through plaigiarism analysis software in the near future? (Do they now?) How to work around an enterprising student who knows to change enough words from the original text?
Yes, plaigiarism is an old problem, but in certain quarters the pressure for student to excel, combined with easy access to content online as well as contractors for hire, make it more tempting than ever.