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Massive open online courses: higher education's digital moment?

Massive open online courses report coverMassive open online courses (MOOCs) offer a chance for millions of people, whoever they are, wherever they are, to follow courses led by distinguished scholars, and at the same time connect with a community of like-minded fellow learners around the globe.

To many, this looks like a revolutionary moment, heralding a new era for higher education. As with most revolutions, however, at this early stage it is very hard to predict what the outcomes might be, either for the way people access higher education, or for the way it is provided. 

This report tracks the development of MOOCs and discusses whether their surge in popularity is the beginning of a significant transformation in higher education. It assesses recent trends, and looks at the considerations that the higher education sector ought to take into account in order to maximise the benefits of open online models of delivery.


The report recommends that institutions should consider:

The aims of engaging with massive open online courses

Specifically the role they can play in communicating knowledge, raising institutional profile, diversifying recruitment pathways form non-traditional and overseas backgrounds, and in improving the quality and value of online and traditional courses.

The organisational changes that new online models of education require

Specifically the costs of developing MOOCs and the implications of a shift toward free course content; how institutions can add value to the educational experience of students, and facilitate access to social and professional networks; institutional and sector arrangements for recognising MOOCs for entry onto paid courses and toward a final higher education award; and the appropriate balance between innovation and wider development of professional and institutional capacity to implement new online delivery models.

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