Moocs: giving or gobbling?

January 23, 2014

Surprise, surprise: the turkeys vote against Christmas (“Higher education ‘hype cycle’ that can be both vicious and virtuous”, Opinion, 9 January; “Hits and myths: Moocs may be wonderful idea, but they’re not viable”, Opinion, 16 January). What David Maguire and Diana Laurillard do not tell us is that in the mass production factories that UK universities are today (perhaps with the exception of Oxbridge), students get very little in the way of academic support and proper formative feedback.

The truth is that a motivated student can get better academic content and more organised scientific information from a well-made massive open online course than from an average UK degree course – and save tens of thousands of pounds in the process.

Giorgio Panzone via


Anyone handing over £,000 up front for an unproven product with no guarantees would be considered a fool in any sphere other than UK universities. Massive open online courses are not competing against UK universities as the business models bear no similarities. The traditional university model is so inflexible that the student has to fit into its system where there is no compromise, whereas Moocs can be adapted to fit the student. I work in a UK institution but take Moocs exclusively.

mark cole via


Massive open online courses might not be perfect yet, but neither is face-to-face education. Open up to the new qualities of Moocs and you will love your job even more in the future. Would you prefer to develop high-quality Moocs and/or coach students in the process of growing towards a degree, or to continue to show mediocre PowerPoint presentations multiple times and lose a lot of time on administration and reviewing?

Corina Kroon via

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations