Higher education is not a service that can be commoditized or reduced to a script to be outsourced or mass produced. APSCUF faculty take pride in their ability to provide a high quality education that invokes thought provoking variables for discussion and increased learning opportunities.
The creators of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs show more concern in opening access and creating a model where hundreds (if not thousands) can sign in to “attend” an online lecture or video than producing high quality education.
Recently APSCUF’S Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Policy issued a policy on distance education. APSCUF contends that while distance education provides access to underserved student populations, the traditional method of classroom instruction proves to be a better method.
Unlike a face-to-face classroom, distance education lacks the direct and immediate social interaction between instructors and students that is essential to the educational environment. Other challenges facing distance education include student retention issues, strained student time-management skills, and the difficulty instructors face in replicating traditional classroom experiences.
The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education recently produced a video that also addresses concerns with the MOOC industry. Challenges to the proponents of this mass-produced, impersonal, scripted “free” education include such thought-provoking questions as:
- If you have to pay for a “certificate of completion” to authenticate the learning experience how it is free?
- How does a free online course increase access to education in third-world countries with poor infrastructure and power, let alone broadband access?