In a recent blog post by The Ed Techie, the authors suggests that MOOCs could be used to replace the 1st year of an undergrad program. I'm not sure I completely agree, but I definitely see value in MOOCs, especially for those who don't exactly know what they want to study in college. In my blog post MOOCs helping you figure out where to go from here, I talk about how MOOCs can be a useful tool to determine if additional education in a particular field would be useful to you.
My concern with MOOCs as a replacement for 1st year is all the other stuff that happens in first year university – that is, all the hidden curriculum and informal learning that happens when you are learning to live on your own and take responsibility for your own education.
I'm also concerned that too many of the MOOCs (specifically the xMOOCs) are focused on knowledge dumps (didatic delivery of content). Perhaps, the MOOCs can replace the 100+ size lecture classes – but I would hope that 1st year undergraduate degrees also include courses with fewer students and more interactivity, and that the experience is more than being a number in a lecture hall. Maybe I'm being too idealistic!
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