Online Course Providers; the Missing Piece of the Education System or a Disruption to it?

Digital technology and widespread internet access have revolutionized the education system in the 21st century. As a product of these changes, the massive open online course (MOOC) providers such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity have emerged, each having over a million registered users.

The open access to a vast spectrum of courses has provided an opportunity for people across the globe to affordably seek what they are passionate about. The major concern, however, is that, are these platform able to offer a quality of education equivalent to the traditional institutions?

Dr. Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business Professor, cast the doubt on the suitability of these newcomers and predicted that such disruption to the conventional education system would cause the failure of thousands of universities across the U.S. So far, the prediction of Dr. Christensen does not seem close at all; however, while we are seeing rapid growth in the number of platforms for MOOCs, numerous universities have undergone a flat/declining student enrollment.

In my opinion, the impacts of MOOC providers on the in-person institutions are positive in the long run. The fulfillment of the needs of the education seekers is surely dependent upon the quality of service they receive. If my expectations from an online course are not met, I would likely consider the traditional in-person courses as my priority. The opposite case also holds; the traditional institutions have no choice but to accept the competition which I would believe results in a better education system. Ultimately, these paths of gaining knowledge are not in a boxing ring! They have the chance to modify each other, find their genuine standing, and lead to an equilibrium where the people have the highest chance to flourish their capabilities.


One Reply to “Online Course Providers; the Missing Piece of the Education System or a Disruption to it?”

  1. Moein,

    I was wondering, do you think that the drop in the overall enrollment is a consequence of the MOOCs? Personally, I think it might have more to do with the student debt, and maybe that cascades into looking at alternatives for education. I do believe, like you said, that the traditional education can be complemented and even enhanced with the MOOCs, and even attracting potential students into their programs. Thanks for posting!

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