The Game keeps Changing, Coursera Offers Solutions for Public Higher Education

Coursera announced today that it is working with 10 Public Universities to essentially facilitate the sharing, brokering and delivery of online courses. There are lot’s of questions and secrets but the bottom line is there are significant Public University Systems exploring the use of Coursera to provide an online learning service that they have not been able to do themselves. I see these institutions as hedging their bets on where they think Higher Education may be going. And guess what, faculty are not happy and feel left out of the conversation. Yes, most of them are, but that is their choice. My advice to faculty is to make sure you understand what is really happening. This is the business side of higher education and you are an employee of that business.

I read into a few of these university systems as looking to Coursera to help them accomplish what they have not been able to achieve internally. I am a part of state system that has a goal to grow online learning and make it equally available to all students within our 4 campus system. Guess what, this is not easy even if we did have popular support. But I could justify partnering with a MOOC to solve all of our logistical and administrative problems. Heck they would probably solve our political problems and we could blame them for it. This is serious business. I believe and support the fact that online learning provides better learning analytics, which those of us not involved with online learning, are scrambling to find a way to identify.

We have Retention and Assessment initiatives that rely on technology that we hope will provide us the answers to validate that our educational systems are still the best. But we are ignoring the truth that today’s learners really can thrive with online options.

We are not missing the boat we have chosen not to board it.

I applaud Coursera and Udacity for stretching their model based on their strengths. Sure it is good for the investors but it is not bad for the industry. The MOOCs may very well give us the educational model that we have all talked about, where our students are allowed to take the best course available for every subject. However, when we talked about this or were questioned about it we never really believed it would be possible. FastCompany’s article today drives home this point. The MOOCs are just helping us to serve a greater number of students more effectively, isn’t that “Our Mission”.

Here’s the full list of public universities partnering with Coursera:

  • The State University of New York (SUNY)
  • Tennessee Board of Regents
  • University of Tennessee System
  • University of Colorado System
  • University of Houston System
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of New Mexico
  • University System of Georgia
  • West Virginia University

For more coverage on today’s announcement:

About ghsmith76

Greg Smith has retired. His last position was the Interim CIO at Western Washington University. Prior to WWU Greg was the CIO at Missouri S&T, and before that the CIO for George Fox University in Newberg, OR. Greg went to the Northwest from the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology in Indianapolis, IN. where he served as the Director of IT for 8 years. Prior to the IT career in Academia, Greg was a Systems Consultant with Hewlett-Packard primarily with the Analytical Group working out of San Francisco,Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Greg's passion as a CIO in Higher Education came from his belief that Technology can benefit Teaching & Learning.

Posted on May 30, 2013, in academic, MOOC, Online Learning and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Well-stated, Greg. Love this line: “We are not missing the boat we have chosen not to board it.”


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