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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Don't Count Out MOOCs Just Yet

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have gone through a period of being “The Next Big Thing” and weathered various degrees of criticism. Now, the concept may be ripe for a new era, according to Anant Agarwal, computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CEO of the nonprofit MOOC platform edX.

The optimism is based, in part, on edX enrollment figures that have doubled over the past year, as well as studies that have shown students taking an MIT online physics class learned as effectively as students who took the traditional classroom course.

“We’ve been growing as others are throwing in the towel,” Agarwal told Wired.

As the model transforms, edX has found that traditional classroom work is beginning to take advantage of MOOCs. The content is now showing up in flipped-classroom settings to allow students to view it on their own while the teacher uses class time for hands-on work. EdX has even launched A/B testing so faculty can experiment with different teaching styles and compare student outcomes.

“It's how a professor can learn what’s working and what’s not working and have a process for improving the course,” Agarwal said.

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