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Five Questions to Ask: MOOCs and Online Higher Ed

  1. Are the colleges you cover experimenting with MOOCs, or “massive open online courses,” that are free for anyone to take? If so, how do the institutions plan to bring in revenue to cover the costs of producing them? Will the colleges offer credit to students who pass these online courses?

  2. How are colleges in your area using online learning to cut costs? Even if the colleges are not offering fully online courses, are they doing any “blended” or “hybrid” courses that replace some class sessions with online materials, thereby reducing the amount of time students spend on campus? Or do the technology costs actually make online courses more expensive to produce than traditional ones?

  3. Are any colleges in your area outsourcing their online courses to a publisher or other vendor? A number of companies now sell ‘courses in a box’ that colleges can license, or even manage instruction and support for online programs, so that colleges can jump into online learning quickly and with less setup cost. (Companies offering such outsourcing include 2U and Pearson eCollege.)

  4. How involved are faculty members in coordinating any new online programs in your area? What do professors think of the quality of the courses?

  5. What kinds of students are taking online courses? What are the typical completion rates of online students compared to those in traditional classes?