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

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