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Professors Still View MOOCs Skeptically

A survey of professors finds that most see online courses as inferior to in-class lessons--but those who have taught online are more open to their potential. Larry Greenemeier reports.

The New York Times calls 2013 “the year of the MOOC.” But massive open online courses still fail to get high marks from most educators.

In a recent survey of more than 2,200 professors, only one in five thought that online courses could be as effective as classroom curricula. Their biggest concern: limited interaction between teachers and students. The survey was done by Gallup and the website Inside Higher Ed.

Respondents linked MOOC credibility to whether an online course was offered by an accredited school and to a student’s ability to receive credits.

Faculty skepticism isn’t surprising. New technologies often turn crafted products and services into bland commodities, something no teacher wants. On the other hand, resistance to change, especially when it involves computers, tends to be a losing strategy in most fields.

An important wrinkle in the data: much MOOC criticism comes from faculty who’ve never taught an online course. Of the 30 percent of professors polled who had taught a MOOC, most thought that online coursework can deliver roughly the same results as the classroom.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.] 

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