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Concierge Education may be the next big thing; it's the antithesis of MOOCs

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. 

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Comment by Chris Bergeron (LSI) on October 30, 2013 at 5:53am

With all due respect to the role of the instructor(s) in MOOCs, it is clear that they cannot be the "go to" person for every conversation, question, comment, or complaint from their students. Complementary methods of academic support (such as teaching assistance, in-person and online tutoring, and academic coaching or mentoring) must be implemented to measure increase in course completion rates and student persistence. Perhaps you can think of the "stand-alone MOOC" versus the "integrated MOOC." In the stand-alone MOOC (the current model), a self-motivated student will do well. I think this is evidenced by the current 10% (or less) completion rate. In an integrated MOOC, one that has been integrated with academic support, imagine the students who would succeed.

Comment by Gene Loeb on October 6, 2013 at 8:51pm

This comment describes well a situation which I have thought about since MOOC's became popular. Some students benefit from one-to -one or small learning environments. The traditional classroom, with groups and a  lot of interaction and including use of youtubes and cd activities, for example,  and are very desirable in certain classes and by certain individuals. In addition, there hasn't been enough experiences with MOOC's to determine their value and under which circumstances, and the determination that there are different types of MOOCS

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