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Confessions of a MOOC Prof: What I Learned and What I Worry About

by Josh Covash

We have heard a lot of talk about MOOCs, or massive online open courses, over the last couple of years. On the plus side, MOOCs often draw enormous enrollments and are easy to sign up for and use; all you need, it seems, is an Internet connection and an interest to learn.

On the down side, they have significant attrition rates – about 90 percent of those enrolled never complete a course – and, according to their most alarmist critics, these courses may even threaten the jobs of college professors nationwide.

Indeed, despite the large dropout rate, MOOCs certainly end up serving a significant number of students. If the initial enrollment in a MOOC is 40,000 and only 4,000 actually complete the course, that’s still a lot of students compared to a traditional classroom. A professor teaching four courses a year in classes with 30 students each would have to teach for more than 33 years to reach 4,000 students.

It’s true that if these courses ever caught on across the culture in a fundamental way, as many have been predicting, they could significantly transform higher education.

Amid all the kerfuffle, and based on having taught several

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