Embrace Moocs or face decline, warns v-c

“It’s Mooc or die”, a university vice-chancellor has said, claiming that institutions must embrace the massive open online course movement and adapt their teaching methods or face a tough future.

May 17, 2013

As more and more universities offer their courses for free online, those that choose not to risk being left behind, and missing out on the opportunity to develop a more innovative – and future-proof – approach to higher education, Don Nutbeam, vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton, said.

Speaking at the Universities UK Open and Online Learning conference in London yesterday, he posed the question: “If university content is available for free, why would anyone pay £9,000 plus per year for a university education? If university content can be delivered where and when people want it who will ever turn up for lectures again?”

He said the conclusion was “obvious”, adding: “It’s Mooc or die. More to the point, do it quickly.”

According to Professor Nutbeam, “smart universities will embrace the Mooc movement”, using them to develop innovations in teaching and learning.

“I don’t think it is the end of the campus,” he said, “[but] I do sincerely believe that Moocs and the technology they foster can liberate students and our academic community from the traditional lecture.”

He said students were uninspired by the idea of sitting with 400 others in a lecture theatre, and listening “at a distance”.  This experience could easily be replaced by online learning, he said.

“What students place high value on is high quality, interactive contact time with the academic community,” he continued. “Time that enables them to develop…transferable skills such as the ability to work as part of a team, to solve problems working with other [and] the ability to communicate publicly effectively. These are things that are not easily going to be replaced by Moocs.”

Open University vice-chancellor Martin Bean told the conference that if universities ignored Moocs, they would, potentially, be bypassing a huge opportunity to market themselves internationally.

“When 18 of the top 20 ranked US universities last year started Mooc-ing, it created this moment…where suddenly we had this tipping, and the world will never be the same again,” he said.

“[Potential students are asking]: ‘I can get online and try out US universities for free, why can’t I try out British universities?’ If we don’t think that opening up these digital storefronts…is going to be the way of the future then we are sadly mistaken.”

chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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 6 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
Register

Reader's comments (1)

MOOC or die - I love it. This is a game changer. Perhaps this will finally bring down the costs of higher ed? Lots of good info around, including this one I liked: http://chopra-m.blogspot.com/2013/04/can-you-mooc.html

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Dean of Creative and Cultural Industries UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Dean of Science UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Registrar and Secretary GOLDSMITHS UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
Reader in Business and Management DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY
Reader in Enterprise/Entrepreneurship DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY

Most Commented

Social media icons

Gabriel Egan laments the narcissistic craving for others’ approval brought on, he says, by the use of social networking websites

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

Elly Walton illustration (25 August 2016)

Treating students as consumers has precipitated a rush to the bottom to give them exactly what they want, says John Warren

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman