MOOCs Carve Out a Narrow Niche in Higher Education: A Familiar Story for K-12 Use of Educational Technology

I agree with this post by Larry Cuban 100%. I find it interesting that the business world has tried recently to frame this niche market conversation by saying that these “Disruptive Innovations” start with niche areas first and then overthrow an existing market domain. They (and by they I mean scholars such as Christensen and Horn from the Harvard Business School) point to evidence such as TurboTax (accounting) and Netflix (movie rentals). But can and will education ever get disrupted? The business scholars say it is inevitable in education (especially now with the infusion of choice into schooling options) because they posit that this is what happens in markets — niche products march upmarket as they improve and replace existing practices. However, as Prof. Cuban has shown time and time throughout his career, this hasn’t happened in schools and doesn’t look to happen anytime soon. In my opinion, one possible reason is that schooling, as a major social institution, is not the same as a business market and thus will not behave like a market. Ever. It is a social institution and these institutions are governed by different rules not necessarily aligned with markets. I am trying to build this framework within my dissertation (advised by Prof. David Gamson) and I will be following Larry Cuban’s posts closely as I move forward!

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

So many hopes, so many promises, so many disappointments about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in the past three years.

Hopes for expanding enrollments to anyone in the world with an Internet connection and downsizing tuition costs have shrunk.  Consider that the average MOOC student is not the hoped-for rural Indian villager but a white American, 20-something male with a college degree. While there is much talk about $10,000 bachelor degrees from online courses, only one university thus far has offered such a degree.

Yet after shrink-wrapped hopes have been put away and with disappointing outcomes including high dropout rates (over 80 percent) and many students failing MOOCs when they replace traditional college courses (25 to 50 percent), MOOCs are still around. They have found a niche as online courses for self-starting students inside and outside the university.

As one recent article put it, MOOCs are slowly becoming institutionalized…

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