MOOCs: FREE Education For Those Don’t Need It.. What’s The Point?

by | Education, eLearning

In this 20-minute video discussion, various educational leaders from MOOC entrepreneurs to professors, sit around and discuss the progression of MOOCs so far.

One of the biggest criticisms of MOOCs to date is that studies show they are not solving the “real” problems of education. As Diana Laurillard asks in this video “what are the problems of education that this [MOOCs] solves? I don’t think we specified as one of our major problems how best to give high-quality education to well-qualified professionals for free”.


This obviously brings up a major concern, which is, who are MOOCs designed to serve? Laura Czerniewicz, points out that MOOCs never asked what people who needed the service most wanted. Not only that, but there are obvious language and localization issues.

This leads many to criticize MOOCs as being nothing more than a clever marketing plan that seeks to introduce students to elite educational brands in the hopes of funneling them to either a paid campus course, or a paid online course. As discussed in this video, even though MOOCs have altruism built into them by default, their main role isn’t altruistic. Many of them are managed and receive funding from a school’s marketing department.

In a Forbes article when Daphne Koller, one of the founders of Coursera (a free MOOC), was asked if they would need to go public she said: “We have outside investors, and they expect a return.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth noting that many of the players in “free” education are companies backed by venture capitalists… not philanthropists.

You can watch the discussion below. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

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