SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

June 19, 2013

Web courses R coming


Area colleges slowly add Web courses


  • Matthew Stoltzfus teaches chemistry to more than 117,000 students at a time.

He is a lecturer at Ohio State University, and his iPad appbased course is open — at no charge — to anyone anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal.

It’s available on iTunes U, where tech giant Apple offers college courses to the masses. Universities in central Ohio have slowly started to put resources behind iTunes U and other systems that offer what have come to be called Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.

San Jose State University became the first this year to offer some credit for such courses, and that sparked debate in the higher-education world about the role of college professors.

  • San Jose State’s psychology department denounced the move in an open letter. “Let’s not kid ourselves; administrators at the (California State University system) are beginning a process of replacing faculty with cheap online education ,” the letter reads.
  • Some local professors also have doubts about offering credit for MOOCs.

“They’re not held to the same accreditation standards as traditional online or lecture courses, so they do not provide an equivalent experience,” said Shawn Casey, an English professor at Columbus State Community College who tries to stay away from teaching online courses.

Columbus State doesn’t offer a complete MOOC yet but has started experimenting with iTunes U. The university will expand to other formats, said Tom Erney, the dean of Distance Education and Instructional Support.

  • “MOOCs are transforming the future,” he said.

Stoltzfus said some professors at Ohio State have their doubts about online courses in general.

“You’re like, ‘Oh, man, … is my job on the line?’ ” he said. “But you still need people. A computer can’t do my job without me.”

In addition to iTunes U, the format Stoltzfus uses, Ohio State has free, not-for-credit courses on Coursera, another free online platform that professors use to reach masses.

The university is creating two courses in the fall with Coursera, but it doesn’t plan to offer credit for MOOCs, said Mike Hofherr, associate vice president for distance education and eLearning.

“They’re just too new for us,” he said. “And in the end, if we’re going to continue with this venture, we’re going to have to make it viable.”

Hofherr was referring to the fact that the university doesn’t make any money off its Coursera courses. Having such courses is more about marketing and brand recognition at this point, he said.

More than 130,000 people have enrolled in OSU’s Coursera courses since the school started offering them this year. Since 2012, the university has enrolled 400,000 in its iTunes U courses.

But even marketing opportunities aren’t enough to lure Capital University. Terry Lahm, associate provost, said Capital is staying away from MOOCs and iTunes U and is putting its energy behind for-credit courses that are part online and part lecture.

“We need to preserve our identity of who we are,” Lahm said. “We believe that there’s more to education than what they’re giving away for free.”


(Jan’s Comment:  

With today’s climate being what it is for our hopeful, but desperate college-bound students,  I say – – whatever works!  These kids deserve all the help they can manage to find.  So Happy hunting. . . . .    .   .   one can only hope this will be a spark for someone out there.  

So many other countries are managing to insure their future citizens are well educated  “and for free, frequently”  .   .   .   only in “Profit-driven” America is it so hard.   For a country of   “values”, there is definitely something wrong here [in my opinion].     just sayin’.     .)


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