MOOCsIf you are like most higher education institutions, lately, you may find yourself asking the question, “Should we be using Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) or not?” You might be wondering how can you effectively integrate MOOCs into your school’s strategy, and what benefits will you and your students receive once you do?

Many higher education institutions are looking into utilizing MOOCs as another way to enhance the educational experience because they allow you to share knowledge across many disciplines. However, there is one drawback; financially, MOOCs require a significant investment upfront, an investment that may never return a high return of profit. By arming yourself and your stakeholders with the proper insights and data, you can choose the right course of action.

The Driving Force behind MOOCs

In a study conducted by the American Council on Education, most participants cited three top motivations for integrating MOOCs into their institutions. These included:

  • Showcasing their top talent to a more broad audience. MOOCs would allow students from across the globe a chance to learn from the best.
  • Drive educational improvements by further engaging faculty in the development of new content that can be applied to existing teachings.
  • Help further the development of the infrastructure of the institution, especially in the areas of expertise and processes. MOOCs could serve as a way to see what is working and what is not, and help improve areas that might need it.

Other secondary strategies that also were discussed in this study included providing students with tools for succeeding in higher-education courses, introducing prospective students to overlooked professions, and encouraging continued alumni interaction with both the institution and lifelong learning.

The Benefits of MOOCs in the Online Arena

Programs that utilize online learning are also feeling the pressure to integrate MOOCs into their institutional strategies, especially if they want to stay competitive. Luckily, these institutions are already at an advantage because they are at the forefront of making continuing education more accessible than your standard brick and mortar university. They also have the unique perspective of knowing what type of technology and online class structure is most appealing to a wide audience, and as such can afford to experiment with their technological delivery system.

Another benefit of technology is that it can be tracked. This allows you and your stakeholders to see what works, what doesn’t and what is really driving student learning. So while, you might get the return on investment you want right away, you do have the opportunity to really create a MOOC that works, which could help generate notice and more interest in your program as a whole. By being on the cutting edge of both technology and education, your program can become recognized as a leader and innovator.

These institutions are already at an advantage because they are at the forefront of making continuing education more accessible.

Not only do MOOCs improve your school’s reputation, but they can also serve as a key strategy for helping your fulfill your institution’s educational mission. Additionally, they can help expand your institution’s reach to a more global community by allowing you to test out educational experiences before making them part of your curriculum. No matter what your reasons are for integrating MOOCs into your institution, remember the key to any successful launch is to keep your expectations realistic and never lose sight of the importance of a good support system.


Author Rick J. Stern

Entrepreneur Rick Stern built Xenegrade Corp with a focus on service to educational organizations. With an MBA from Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester and over 20 years continuing education management, his experience provides valuable insight into the needs, demands, and trends of the continuing education market.

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