The MOOC hype cycle… the trough of disillusionment looms

Following hot on the heels of the news of Udacity’s change in direction, the commentators are now rushing to declare that MOOCs are dead. With perfect timing a survey is published that shows most participants in Coursera’s xMOOC courses already had a graduate degree further undermining the premise of expanding quality education extolled as a benefit of the MOOC model.

This all appears to be a glass half empty perspective which coincides with the start of the download slope of the hype cycle. I wonder how long it will take for MOOCs to become part of the wall paper of education… i.e. reach the plateau of productivity part of the hype cycle graph above. An extremely useful model with particular benefits and limitations which does offer the potential for greatly lowering the barriers of access to education.

The alternative interpretation of the same survey data is that of the 34,779 Coursera students surveyed, 20% (that is just short of 7000) didn’t have a graduate degree. That is a significant penetration into a population that conventionally do not get access to university level education. To reinforce the success of Coursera courses in widening access see the graphic below:

Coursera Map Oct 2013

This map is published by Kris Olds and is the participation data from Oct 2013. This gives an indication of just how global the reach is, despite the requirement for access to the internet and the largely graduate level nature of the courses provided.

I’m looking forward to the MOOC hype cycle moving on so we can all get on with our jobs and use the MOOC model when and where it is appropriate without being either lauded or criticised for the choice.