By Jim Shimabukuro
At Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, three courses will be blended with MOOCs,1 adding yet another variation to the alphabet MOOCs — bMOOC.2 The MOOCs are required, and MOOC performance affects course grades. They’re adding flip into the mix by devoting interactive F2F class time to topics covered online. This innovation is in response to the shortage of qualified faculty in higher ed.
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Community colleges devote huge chunks of their budget to remedial learning, and a sizable amount of the cost is in constructing and maintaining onground facilities such as learning centers, labs, classrooms, and staff offices. An alternative that may be long overdue is to shift remedial learning online via online courses and MOOCs. In a study last month, Furqan Nazeeri, Jared Moore, and Nathan Benjamin3 suggest that “Offering remedial courses online rather than on campus has the potential to provide time and cost savings” (p. 6).
This is just one of the implications they discuss. Their approach is interesting. They lump MOOCs into the larger category of online courses. This is both accurate and insightful. However, it’s a source of confusion throughout the report when it’s not clear whether the reference is to MOOCs or for-credit online courses or both.
Their division of online courses into four models — For-Credit, Research, Pre-Matriculation and Post-Graduation — is typical of the confusion. This scheme seems appropriate for MOOCs but not for online versions of traditional courses. Even for MOOCs, the categories are more inclusive than exclusive, blurring the distinctions. For this study, perhaps MOOCs and online courses based on traditional course parameters should have been treated as separate models.
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4 advocates “Nevada’s recently enacted nearly universal education savings account (ESA) program.” This is how it works: “For parents earning above the low-income level, the state will deposit funds totaling 90 percent of the average statewide support per pupil, or roughly $5,100, into an individual education savings account for each child.” The amount rises to 100 percent and $5,700 for low-income parents. “Parents can withdraw funds from their ESAs to pay for a variety of educational services, such as private school tuition, distance-learning online programs, and tutoring.”
Sounds like a good idea, until it smacks into the brick wall of reality, in this case, the high cost of private schools.5 Still, with wise management, diligence, and luck, parents could find affordable alternative schools or even home-school their children with the money.
Considering the rest of the nation, Nevada’s $5,700 cost per pupil figure seems low. According to Allie Bidwell, “Nationwide, states spent an average of $10,667 per student in the 2011-12 school year – a 2.8 percent drop from the $10,975 they spent in 2010-11, according to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics.”6
1Rozelle Laha, “IITs, IIMs use technology to fight faculty crisis,” Hindustan Times, 15 July 2015.
2Not to be confused with the Barcelona School Bmooc, a business training platform.
3A Framework for Online Learning Revenue Models at Universities: Research and Opportunities, ExtensionEngine, June 2015.
4“Why Your State Should Copy Nevada’s School Choice Plan,” Heartland, 7 July 2015.
5Geoff Williams, “Can I Afford to Send My Child to Private School?” U.S. News, 3 Feb. 2015.
6“How States Are Spending Money in Education,” U.S. News, 29 Jan. 2015.