The rise, fall and future of MOOCs

by Brett Henebery25 Oct 2016
A report recently published in the Association for Talent Development (ATD) looked at the rise, fall and future of Massive, Open, Online Courses (MOOCS).
“Massive, Open, Online Courses (MOOCS) sounded like a great idea when they first came about in 2008.
Free courses from reputable colleges and universities with open enrolment: they were supposed to become non-profit academia’s silver bullet for reaching underserved populations.
It didn’t take long for learning professionals to catch on, but the future of MOOCs may not be as bright as it once seemed. 
As studies show, MOOCs can be the least effective method when it comes to serving the students who need educational resources the most.
New data from U.S. News & World Report and the Babson Survey Research Group show that the popularity of MOOCs has plateaued, at least in the academic world. Roughly 11% of institutions offer them today, but only 2.3% more plan on doing so.
Last year, nearly 60% of institutions did not plan to offer one in 2015, showing a steady increase over the four previous years and almost doubling the percentage from 2012.
A reason as to why this is the case was recently outlined in an article published in The New Yorker.
The article pointed out that data from 40,000 MOOCs students across Washington State – analysed by the Columbia University’s Teachers College – found that some subsets struggled more than others.
So how can this problem be resolved?

ATD suggests that the forecast for MOOCs “isn’t entirely gloomy”.
“Even if more academic institutions don’t plan to offer MOOCs than did a few years ago, the number of institutions offering them has still increased, even if it's only by a small margin,” the article points out.
“The number of companies developing MOOCs internally will likely increase too as more talent development professionals learn to design them.”
In the short term, at least, more MOOCs are available today than ever before. This means more free resources for developing the workforce with, which is a good bargain for talent development professionals – even if it may not last.