University Leaders Not Keen on ‘MOOCs,’ Survey Finds

By Sean Cavanagh — May 07, 2013 1 min read
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Interest in “massively open online courses,” or MOOCs, continues to grow at colleges and universities, and Coursera’s recent announcement that it plans to apply that model to K-12 teacher professional development would only seem to lend to the on-campus momentum.

But it turns out there’s skepticism in the administrative wing of the ivory tower.

A recently released Gallup poll finds that only a slight fraction of university presidents—3 percent—strongly agree that MOOCs will improve student learning, while a much larger portion, 28 percent, are adamant that the courses would not bring that benefit.

University presidents were just as skeptical that MOOCs would solve higher education institutions’ financial problems, though more of the campus leaders believed that the open, online courses were capable of “fostering creative pedagogical strategies.” You can see the full results below. Respondents were asked to evaluate MOOCs potential on a scale of 1-5, from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”

Several colleges and universities, including elite ones, have embraced MOOCs and are offering faculty-taught course over the web. But MOOCs have drawn a more skeptical response, and in some cases outright resistance, from those who question the quality of online offerings, and wonder why universities would want to give away the content of their courses, among other concerns.

Last week, the MOOC provider Coursera unveiled plans to partner with a number of university schools of education to put teacher professional-development content online. That content is not being offered for credit, but rather as continuing education for teachers, aspiring teachers, and others, Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng told Education Week recently.

Gallup’s results were based on 889 web surveys conducted in March of college and university presidents from two- and four-year schools. They were taken from a total initial, overall sample population of 4,500 higher education officials. For the results based on the web surveys, the margin of error was about 3 percent.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.