Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Report Takes Aim at Online Ed Profits

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, a coalition of faculty groups, has released a report that claims the rhetoric behind online learning is more about making money than academic results.

“Promise” of Online Higher Education: Profits states that the expansion of online education in general and massive open online courses (MOOCs) in particular, is being driven by corporations at the expense of students or public interest. It also recommends that terms used to describe online formats should be re-examined to better help students and institutions make informed decisions on their usefulness, according to a report in Campus Technology.

“Increasingly, online higher education is big business with huge profits being made by many private companies,” the authors of the paper wrote. “We are told repeatedly that students will benefit from the rush toward online learning, but we must ask who’s benefiting more: Students? Or investors and companies?”

To illustrate, the report points to companies such as Coursera, which recently announced it had made $1 million in profits from its massive open online courses. There are a number of other firms generating “robust” profits from converting traditional degree programs into online versions.

The report “shines a light on how leaders in government and in our colleges and universities are being enticed by snappy slogans and slick sales pitches into making decisions that benefit investors and corporations instead of the students we’re supposed to serve,” said UCLA history Lillian Taiz. 

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