MOOCs: A New Hope

Published: 11 January 2016

When the first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) began appearing online, it was near impossible to predict whether they would be a passing fad or the biggest threat/opportunity to conventional learning and higher education institutions. As the years have passed by, it is safe to say they have established themselves as a legitimate, albeit confusing, offering. With the recent announcement of an international credit transfer system appearing like it will become a reality before long, are we facing the prospects of MOOCs taking on even more significance in the future of education?

The consortium of institutes backing the credit transfer system is both impressive and global. The system will ensure a much more consistent and reliable approach to transferring from one programme to another ensuring students/customers have even greater flexibility when making key study decisions. They also offer an alternative to being anchored to a fixed location through study, suiting individuals who for many reasons can be nomadic in their existence.  The end result is a win-win for students who are continuing to be afforded even greater flexibility and control in how they acquire their education.

The keenest of horizon scanners will have their excitement well and truly piqued by the suggested potential MOOCs have. The ramifications on conventional learning delivery are huge and in years to come, we could expect to see a completely restructured delivery model. This would have impact on jobs, infrastructure and estates amongst other areas and would require the current University leadership hierarchies to completely rethink their approach to teaching and learning.

The UK MOOC FutureLearn currently has close to 55 HEI partners. The MOOC sector itself is growing exponentially so it is clear the direction of travel has been set. Those Universities who have embraced this change can expect to benefit from it and the financial potential it could reap. After all, easier to access learning means more learners and more learners means a greater positive impact on society. The influence on the existing infrastructure will be unpredictable and exciting. What will a University Open Day look like in 2025? How will leading academics engage with their students? Will the town/city based University name become a legacy thing? MOOCs have posed these questions and the answers will be fascinating to observe.

Gin Bhandal is a Consultant in the Education practice at Berwick Partners. He regularly works with Universities to appoint senior leaders tasked with delivering transformational change across the sector.

Categories: Education Recruitment

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