Udacity, who, along with Coursera and edX, has been one of the "big three" MOOC providers is stepping back from its initial vision, to refocus on corporate training. Now that we've had a bit of time to think through the potential offered by MOOCs, and to assess how well they live up to them in practice, what conclusions are people drawing? Is it possible that MOOCs have value, but just aren't the same sort of animal as a traditional "bricks and mortar" course? Jonathan Freedman, from the University of Michigan, thinks so, and calls them "usefully Middlebrow." John Covach of the University of Rochester talks in depth about his own experiences, and frames MOOC courses as more akin to a public lecture series than a college course.
The New Yorker takes on the MOOC: “One of the edX people said, ‘This is being sponsored by Harvard and M.I.T. They wouldn’t do anything to harm higher education!’ What came to my mind was some cautious financial analysts saying, about some of the financial instruments that were being rolled out in the late nineties or early two-thousands, ‘This is risky stuff, isn’t it?’ And being told, ‘Goldman Sachs is doing it; Lehman Brothers is doing it.’ ” Previously
Harvard and MIT today announced a new partnership for offering free online courses, called edX. [more inside]