Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been becoming more and more popular, with many believing this option could revolutionize education opportunities around the globe. However, a recent study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education found that of a million users of MOOCs, only about half of those registered for a course ever viewed a lecture. Moreover, only about 4% completed courses and 80% of those taking MOOCs had already earned a degree of some kind, dismissing the notion that MOOCs could provide education to those students living in poor countries.
The debate over the pros and cons of online courses is still raging. Sebastian Thrun, a strong backer of online education says, "To all those people who declared our experiment a failure, you have to understand how innovation works. Few ideas work on the first try. Iteration is key to innovation."
Thus, online courses will likely persist and adapt from their current standing. Time will tell how successful they may become.
For more information, check out this NY Times article: After Setbacks, Online Courses Are Rethought - NYTimes.com.
Will MOOCs Change Campus Teaching? is an article that stresses the need to upgrade the lecture model at universities. Whether or not MOOC is effective depends on some factors an instructor has no control over, namely the sharing of information and test taking concerns. If MOOC are used to provide information to students and class time is then geared towards discussion, collaboration, project work to use and analyze gathered information, then would that indicate it is a success? Or would it?