To Measure a MOOC’s Value, Just Ask Students (Chronicle)

By Owen Youngman

December 9, 2013

What’s the value of my university’s name on the “statement of accomplishment” that students just earned for passing my first massive open online course? Is it at all enhanced by the robo-signature of their new favorite MOOC professor? Or, as Samuel Goldwyn probably didn’t say about verbal contracts, is it just not worth the paper it’s written on? (And might it be of higher value if the students print it out using a laser printer instead of an inkjet?)

[…]

In my survey, some 90 percent of my “graduates” said that they had already earned at least a four-year degree. So it’s not about replacing their existing credential—just adding a few new ones in order to get ahead or stay ahead. Or, based on the survey question above, to add to the confidence they need to continue to better themselves. Perhaps that sentiment is best evidenced by this quote from a student: “It doesn’t matter [about the certificate], I’m a winner anyway. I won over myself, my laziness, my lack of time, all other possible excuses. I didn’t have anybody or anything that would push me toward it, like I have at school. It was just me and my motivation.”

That’s a balance of “credentialing” and “educating” that I am happy to embrace.

(Some more information about the chance of losing “high risk students,” as well.)

About Ryan C. Fowler

Ryan is a curricular fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. He also teaches at Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster Theological Seminary.
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