Are MOOCs for Everyone?

There is a lot of hype surrounding MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), as there should be. Knowledge at ones fingertips has never been more readily available to everyone. Especially for individuals looking to take a course from a renowned professor, or professionals looking to enhance their skill-set in a particular area – MOOCs are great.

However, there are some limitations to MOOCs and much confusion surrounding them. First and foremost, at this point in time, MOOCs offer courses and not degree programs. So, one could not attain an undergraduate degree in Business Administration, for example, from taking a scattering of MOOC courses. What a person could attain though, is a brush up course in marketing, or accounting.

For those who wish to undertake and complete an entire undergraduate degree program, tuition-free, MOOCs are not the current solution – University of the People (UoPeople), is. University of the People is the world’s first tuition-free, non-profit, online, degree-granting university dedicated to opening the gates to higher education for all those otherwise constrained.

For those looking for individualized attention, MOOCs are not the right resource. MOOCs are great for self-study learns because there are tens of thousands, sometimes even hundreds of thousands, of students in each MOOC course. Individual MOOC learners should be highly independent. There are no student service or academic affair support offered by MOOCs as they are not a university, they are stand alone courses. Consequently, University of the People breaks its classrooms into 20-30 students, and thus, is able to offer personalized attention from instructors with peer learning. Additionally, University of the People offers a full suite of support services including student support, academic advising and more.

Due to the nature of MOOCs being open to thousands in a classroom, and the end goal is knowledge and not a degree, it is inherently natural then that MOOCs have demonstrated 10% or less completion rates per course. Curiosity is intriguing, but sometimes, without support, it is not long-lasting. On the flip side, University of the People demonstrates 85% to 90% completion rates per course, with the end “prize” after taking many courses together, is having obtained an entire undergraduate degree.

In conclusion, MOOCs are incredible tools for skill development and knowledge obtainment. However, they are not here to serve individuals who want a degree in a subject but simply cannot afford tuition. University of the People is the vehicle to find the brightest in need of a tuition-free university, and offers business administration and computer science degree programs.



About President Shai Reshef

Starting in 1989, Shai Reshef served as chairman of the Kidum Group, a test preparation company, which he sold in 2005 to Kaplan, one of the world’s largest education companies. While chairman of Kidum, he built an online university affiliated with the University of Liverpool, enrolling students from more than 100 countries; that business was sold to Laureate, another large for-profit education company, in 2004. A vessel for universal higher education, UoPeople has the enormous potential to function as a global stimulus package, reaching even the most remote and poorest places on earth. Our ultimate mission is to democratize higher education and, if the past two years are any indication, this is not merely a pipe dream.
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