Driving Awareness, Adoptions, and Affordability
Some have said that MOOCs are an electronic manifestation of the worst method of face-to-face education: the mass lecture: huge halls with theater-style seating and a professor talking, talking, talking, and making illegible notes on a board.
Most educators, parents, and students know that the best education is one-on-one coaching and instruction: the instructor as guide by the side rather than the sage on the stage.
So why all the excitement about MOOCs? Because they are efficient: the cost is low and the convenience high for the student. Institutions like them because putting their best professors on a stage and having their presentations viewed by thousands encourages more applicants and funding.
There is a backlash from instructors who fear for their jobs or worry about having to change their roles, e.g. learning how to teach in a flipped classroom environment where the student watches a video by a star international professor and the local instructor leads a discussion about the session.
We predict there will also be a backlash from students, parents, and others who know that one size does not fit all. Some bright entrepreneurs will follow the time-honored path to success: create a niche and fill it. If everyone is jumping into MOOCs, go in the opposite direction.
What would that be? One-on-one mentoring, coaching, tutoring, and instruction with technology used to drive down cost. A good term that has been around for awhile is "concierge education". With most students today not completing their degrees at a single institution, there is definitely a need for someone to assist them in finding and completing courses from many sources. Beyond this type of guidance, the student also needs individual assistance with those courses where the student to instructor ratio is anywhere from 30 to 300,000 or more.
What technologies can make concierge education cost effective? Most likely an amalgamation of many existing tools, much as Michael Dell got his engineers to design and build a PC in one weekend.
New business models are also needed or existing Internet business models reshaped to fit higher education.
Comments and ideas welcome.