A Massive OOps Calamity

A planned, tuition-free, six-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) intended to reach more than 40,000 students recently unraveled in six days, the reasons for which are painfully detailed in a report from The Washington Post. But as if this online disaster were not bad enough in its own right, guess what the course was intended to be all about? Ready? “Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application.”  That’s right! It was a program designed to teach the fundamentals of how to create an online course.

The Post article features a first-hand account of the mercifully terminated program by one of the enrolled students, Jill Barshay. But she concludes her account with this statement: The problem is that almost anyone can set up an online course and thousands of people will enroll. Unfortunately, there’s no guide to tell you who’s good and who isn’t.

Well, taking online courses from an established, accredited provider with a proven track record in online design, development, and delivery would tend to be a good first step, yes? Keeping in mind the old saying “you get what you pay for” may be a good bet, too? This isn’t intended to bash MOOCs or the “tuition free” idea du jour among the more disruptive forces in higher education these days.  The point is this: people subjected to poor online quality on their first introduction to distance learning are not likely to return anytime soon and this is bad for any form, any type, any sized program at any cost.

You can see the whole story, courtesy of The Washington Post, here.