The rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

The availability of MOOCs is expanding rapidly – according to the Chancellor of the University of Southern California, that institution currently generates around $114 million per year from operating such courses. It was predicted that in the next 5-10 years online courses will be serving more learners than the combined provision of physical courses offered by the world’s universities. This will have both revolutionary and disruptive effects on the global education landscape over the next 10 years.

Online courses will replace the classroom to become the dominant educational mechanism. Alongside this there will be a crucial role of value-added intermediary services which help students who want additional guidance or to explore more detailed subjects/interests. People will be prepared to travel significant distances to access the education that they think is relevant (as opposed to that which others define as relevant). This education will not be a simple of transposition of that provided by high end universities – it will look different and be more driven by individual/localised demand.

It was also pointed out that effectively communicating and teaching information requires more than just making information available online. As such online education resources and courses will still need to be supported in many instances by intermediaries – although whether these intermediaries will remain the same as those who run the traditional higher education systems in the past is not clear.