The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Monday, November 18, 2013

MOOCs Need Better Assessment

Primary Research Group released a report that showed just 7.8% of the U.S. higher education institutions offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) for college credit, but that nearly half of the schools in the survey felt they would be offering at least one MOOC within three years.

The survey also found some colleges would consider accepting MOOC credit if there was a mechanism to assess knowledge gained. Accurate assessment, according to John Ebersole, president of the online college Excelsior College, is a concern that must be addressed.

“Even where credit has been recommended, questions remain as to the extent that participants actually learned anything,” Ebersole wrote in a blog post for WCET. “While few question the capabilities of the sponsoring institutions or their faculty, the degree to which these reputational factors translate into learning is not clear. To date, very little attention has been given to the measurement of learning outcomes by MOOC providers.”

At the same time, Ebersole is convinced the issue should be easy to overcome.

“While most MOOCs have so far featured topics for which there isn’t an appropriate exam, the process to create one is not substantially longer or more complex than what is required to create and offer a course in MOOC format,” he wrote. “In return for paying more attention to the learning outcomes, and how they are measured, MOOC providers can only help enhance the credibility of this pioneering effort, but also gain credibility in the eyes of the critics.”

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