With all of the back-and-forth debate over how massive open online courses (MOOCs) should be managed and monetized, one college president acknowledges there may be some benefits from MOOCs apart from educating students.
In a commentary for Inside Higher Education, Excelsior College President John F. Ebersole notes “it remains unclear as to how student learning by MOOC is to be measured” but that working professionals, especially in technical jobs, may simply want to take MOOCs without credit just to stay up-to-date in their fields.
Ebersole also sees MOOCs as useful tools for branding and marketing higher education institutions. Through free online courses, schools will be able to let prospective students sample their offerings, in hopes of later enrollment in for-fee courses, he says. Schools can also raise their national and international profile by hosting MOOCs, he adds.
Similarly, Ebersole thinks faculty members will be able to enhance their reputations—as instructors, as authors, and as researchers—by reaching thousands of people in open online courses.