If 2012 was the year that massive open online courses (MOOCs) took off, 2013 was when they were found to be about as useful as the song “Blurred Lines” was for rape education.
NPR said that many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would fix the problems of access for underserved students and cost.
It meant that students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools and take free classes from rock star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera and other MOOC platforms.
Part of the problem was that teachers at several institutions rebelled against the rapid expansion of online learning and completion rates and grades were worse than for those who took traditional classes. To make matters worse the students who did best were not the underserved students wanted to teach.
The people who did well were those who were already good students or had already graduated and wanted extra credits.
MOOCs have few active users. About half who registered for a class ever viewed a lecture and completion rates averaged just four percent across all courses.
Apparently, when you looked at the costs involved, they were not much cheaper to run.
Universities are starting to scale back on their commitment to MOOCs. Students complain that you have to be super-motivated for them to work and there was no sense of community or human interaction.