WHITHER THE MOOC? Reports that the Amherst faculty voted to reject an offer to work with edX (70-41, with 5 abstaining) cuts at the heart of the quality-versus-quantity debate over MOOCs. Some of the misgivings from Amherst centered on the potential compromise of its brand as an elite school that has long prided itself on close-knit seminars and personal relationships between faculty and students. Large class sizes, automatic assessments, and branded certificates of completion were cited as causes for concern.
The Chronicle of Higher Ed's Steve Kolowich opines that this rejection "could mark a new chapter for MOOCS--one in which colleges revert to their default modes of deliberation and caution." It's worth remembering that while MOOCs may be free for students, there can be a hefty price tag for schools and faculty. As Kolowich reports, edX charges partners who need help to build courses a base rate of $250K per course, with an additional $50K for each additional time it is offered. (edX also takes a cut of any revenues that the course generates.) And don't discount the major time commitments in planning and running a MOOC, which can top 600 hours. These are certainly some serious investments. And when it's a little early to assess the ROI for colleges, we're not surprised that some aren't as stoked about joining the bandwagon.