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By Heather Ruland Staines, Director Publisher and Content Strategy
If 2013 was The Year of the MOOC and 2014 was the year of the Anti-MOOC, you might be forgiven for thinking that MOOCs had dwindled and disappeared in 2015. Nothing could be further from the truth. More students enrolled in MOOCs in 2015 than in 2012, 2013, and 2014 combined! In 2015, some 17 million MOOC students selected from a menu of 4200 courses hosted by 550 universities. Now that the constant media scrutiny has let up, universities and instructors can try new courses and new models without fear of being berated if these experiments go poorly. ProQuest SIPX continues to add more MOOC courses, and most of these courses are being offered multiple times.
While there is still a dramatic drop between the number of students who enroll in MOOCs and the number of students who complete them, the data shows that a large number of people are benefitting from this new form of education—and in new and exciting ways. Surveys of MOOC participants have shown that there are reasons that students enroll in MOOCs—to learn a new skill or simply because they are interested in a topic and want to engage in the user forums—that have little relation to whether they intend to complete all or part of the course. In addition, a higher percentage of students who sign up (and pay) to earn a verified certificate actually go on to finish the course. As more courses are offering certificates or some type of credit, we may see this data shift.
MOOC students are generally older than their traditional campus counterparts. There is demand for life-long learners and continuing education opportunities. Most MOOC students (2/3) do not live in the United States, although the majority of courses are (at least initially) offered in English. Most have received a college degree, and many even have advanced degrees. Some studies have shown that the majority are also employed full time.
Time to Degree/Affordability
Two recent initiatives highlight the role that MOOCs may play in reducing time to degree or in reducing the cost to obtain a degree. In April 2015, Arizona State University announced their Global Freshman Academy in partnership with edX. The university began putting introductory courses online with the goal of eventually enabling incoming students to take their entire first year online, at a cost significantly less than they would pay as residential students. Students who pass courses are eligible to pay $200 per credit hour for their courses. While the number of students receiving the required C and above necessary to be able to purchase credit is small (about 1% or 323 students), the university believes that prospective students learn about the university through the courses and see that in itself as a benefit.
Georgia Tech recently graduated their first cohort of Masters Degree students in their Computer Science program. This online version of the degree program is available at a projected cost of $6600 tuition, $14,400 less than the residential program for Georgia residents and $38,400 less than out-of-state tuition. The first graduating class was small, only about twenty students, but the stream of applicants remains steady at about 1300 per term. Georgia Tech is satisfied with the results and plans to scale up the program in future years.
Content for Courses
While most MOOC providers and course creators continue to offer versions of their courses that do not charge students a fee, instructors often find themselves in need of assistance when it comes to clearing content for use in these new educational environments. ProQuest SIPX got involved with some early MOOCs when it was still a research project at Stanford. “SIPX is excited to be able to facilitate the supply of quality publisher content into MOOCs and other new online education models that offer flexible learning options for instructors and students,” reports Franny Lee, Co-Founder and Managing Director for ProQuest SIPX.
As more and more students look to verified certificates or even university credit, more MOOC courses resemble their on campus cousins in terms of the quality of the experience. Instructors reaching out for assistance with content identified for use in MOOCs will find that new educational models can require new content provision models. Many of the publishers who work directly with ProQuest SIPX allow content to be offered with geo-pricing—pricing that is tailored to the GDP level of the country in which the student resides. Many content providers are happy to consider provision of content to students in the lowest tiers at no charge. The data on content consumption for these larger than life courses can provide instructors and publishers with useful information to share with their constituencies. “Working with SIPX technology has enabled us to provide our books for use in MOOC courses, delivering some chapters at no charge, with geo-graphically based pricing for additional chapters—all through secure links that avoid the need to expose PDFs on MOOC platforms,” notes Clare Wellnitz, Director of Sales and Licensing, University of California Press. “We are pleased with the simplicity and the flexibility of the SIPX models.”
In 2014, to expand its publisher reach ProQuest SIPX (then SIPX, Inc.) partnered with Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), a global leader in content workflow and rights licensing technology. CCC’s MOOCs Content Licensing Solution enables faculty, staff and administrators to easily secure copyright permissions to use published content in MOOC course materials without incurring unnecessary costs due to enrollment fluctuations. More information can be found here: http://www.copyright.com/academia/moocs/. SIPX and CCC frequently co-present about their experiences in the MOOC space. Please consider attending our next presentation: Online and Still Kicking at the 2016 UKSG Annual Conference and Exhibition in Bournemouth, UK, on April 11 and 12.