The Disenchanting World of MOOCs

Photo by Lara Far on Unsplash

The world of education is evolving at a rapid rate in the digital age. Many companies are coming up with innovative ways to offer long-distance education and training for their employees. MOOCs (massive open online courses) were once the most popular choice among organizations, opening a world of possibilities for workers who required further training.

These free-to-access MOOC lessons seemed ideal for supplementary learning, corporate eLearning, career development, and more. Yet, the results of MOOC lessons soon turned out to be quite different from earlier expectations.

What are MOOCs?

MOOCs are massive open online courses that rose to prominence in 2008 and grew in popularity through 2012. These courses are offered by a wide range of institutions, which include Harvard University and MIT. While MOOCs purely began with recorded lectures, educators are constantly adding more interactive elements to the courses. These include readings, quizzes, and access to social media discussions and user forums.

Concerns Over MOOCs

Although MOOCs became progressively interactive, they still faced an unusually high percentage of dropouts (95%) as compared to conventional classes. It has been reported that the lack of live teacher/lecturer engagement remains the top cause of dropping out. In other words, MOOCs fail to recreate the dynamic atmosphere within a classroom, where ideas are exchanged and thoughts stimulated.

This also meant that MOOC students were lacking the milestones, guidelines, and pipelines required in gauging their learning rates and outcomes. There was no way to decide if a student stood on the right track or to determine their strengths and weaknesses. The learning trajectory seemed uncertain and students faced the risk of wasting precious time and effort.

The Rise of Competency-Based Teaching Models

Competency-based lessons avert the issues of lax learning that lead to the gradual lack of interest, corroborated by the high dropout rates of MOOCs. In contrast, the competency-based approach dives straight into the desired learning outcomes of each student to ensure that they stay engaged right from the start. Hence, the duration of a course is determined by the student, which grants great flexibility.

Additionally, competency-based models focus on subject mastery, as opposed to a generalized curriculum. This provides students with specialized knowledge to thrive in their respective subject matter. MOOCs have shown that the lack of a live teacher or guide leads to disinterest and the eventual discontinuation of a course.

Competency-based lessons avoid the hassle by providing students with full control over their learning trajectory. This means that students are provided with the most suitable content according to their unique learning capacities, educational backgrounds, and aptitudes. Hence, their educational journey is optimized at all times with maximum engagement, toward achieving the best learning outcomes.

MOOCs Versus Competency-based Models

Both teaching methods focus on quality remote learning, which is becoming increasingly important in the age of rapid digitization. However, MOOCs typically lack a systematic course structure, which is crucial in identifying the key takeaways for each student. The lack of direction is worsened with the absence of a live lesson administrator. As such, students may face information overload and quickly lose interest in subsequent lessons. Competency-based education, however, keeps students engaged by assessing their needs and competencies.

A report by training experts identifies four logic models that affect the success of competency-based learning models, which are centered on evoking change and progress. The relevance of curriculum is vital within a modern organization, where every corporate learning outcome should be steered toward the personal growth and development of the student

Capabilia is an online learning hub that provides organizations with a plethora of rich learning experiences. Our partners in education are dedicated to curating the most meaningful and personalized online curriculum backed by data and research to provide the best learning outcome.

Improving lives through learning experiences. Delivering a transformative and effective learning experience, everywhere.

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