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Wary of private ed tech efforts, Big 10 schools weigh their own online learning network

Providers of massive open online courses may have millions of fans around the world, but here’s yet more evidence that the honeymoon is over: the Big 10 universities and the University of Chicago are reportedly questioning partnerships with private MOOC companies and considering creating an online education network of their own.

According to a report from Inside Higher Ed, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of the Big 10 universities and the University of Chicago, released a position paper laying out the universities’ concerns with working with private online learning companies and raising the possibility of developing their own shared infrastructure.

To date, many CIC universities have been active participants in the MOOC movement, with courses from their schools accounting for about 16 percent of Coursera classes, for example. But, going forward, the schools say they need to lead the innovation and, potentially, develop their own platform.

“While new and cost effective technological capabilities make certain changes in higher education possible, it does not necessarily follow that such changes are desirable, or would be endorsed or utilized by our existing students, faculty, or community members,” the schools say in the paper. “Nor does it mean that we fully grasp the costs and business models that might surround new strategies for broadly disseminating course content.”

The report comes as critiques of MOOCs from college professors across the country have grown louder. In April, the faculty at Amherst College voted to reject a partnership with edX and in May, professors at San Jose State University refused to teach an edX course, arguing that MOOCs come at “great peril” to their university.

Provosts of some of the Big 10 schools told Inside Higher Ed that their concerns with working with private MOOC providers range from losing control of their courses to spending more money than they’d need to, to compromising student data and faculty intellectual property rights.

Despite the ongoing debate around how MOOCs will shape the future of higher education, MOOC providers Coursera, Udacity and edX are continuing to gain traction from a wide range of institutions. Last month, Coursera added 10 state schools to its list of more than 80 partners and edX doubled the size of its platform with the addition of 15 international partners.

One Response to “Wary of private ed tech efforts, Big 10 schools weigh their own online learning network”

  1. Rann Xeroxx

    Sounds like the record companies when digital music started to take off. Sorry to tell these tenured, pampered, “I’m going on sabbatical” profs that this is the future and the gravy train of the last 40 years is over.