In this blog, I want to argue that MOOCs or massive open online courses such as Coursera or Edx still cannot fully replace traditional university system. Today, we all are fascinated by the learning opportunities that MOOCs offer to us. Boy, did I imagine that one day I would study Financial Markets course from the Nobel-prize winning professor of economics at Yale University. That was exciting experience for me. When I enrolled to the course, I watched all the online video lectures, completed the online assignments, interacted with peer students from all over the world on the forums and eventually wrote a final exam. After all, I received my statement of accomplishment from this course.
Although, I was studying at one of the most elite university in the world from the famous professor, I lacked the answer and question session that usually happens during the face-to-face class. There was only one-way flow of interaction. I could not ask him a question that would probably lead me, the class or even the professor into a new cognitive dimension. Of course, online forums try to develop a learning community that would facilitate collaboration and cognitive interactions (Glance D.G., Forsey M. and Riley M., 2013). Yes, I interacted on the forum but only in order to find an answer to an assignment that I was struggling with. Not more. I could not use deeper questions, since if I posted them, it did not always find the critical discourse. Hence, face-to-face and group communication is an important factor to facilitate critical discourse and flow of ideas into comprehensible form. Garrison and Cleveland-Innes (2005) in their study reveal that deep learning does not occur if there is no considerable instruction involvement. For instance, I remember getting an insight about principle of overproduction when I was discussing an article with my students. The insight that I did not understand five years before that.
What is clear is that even though the MOOCs offer new and breakthrough innovations in higher education, the traditional universities still have their own strengths that they need to understand and take full advantage of in order to be competitive in this new learning environment.
Garrison D.R. and Cleveland-Innes M. (2005). Facilitating Cognitive Presence in Online Learning: Interaction Is Not Enough. American Journal of Distance Education. Vol. 19, Iss. 3
Glance D.G., Forsey M. and Riley M. (2013). The pedagogical foundations of massive open online courses. First Monday. Volume 18, Number 5-6 May 2013. Retrieved on September 13, 2015 from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/4350/3673