Future of MOOCs within the South African Higher Education landscape

Posted by Bongani Khoza

Based on existing research Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) potentially offer valuable educational opportunities. An example is seeing MOOCs being used as supplements to traditional college courses (Kroski 2013), in addition, to the learners that lack funding to enroll in traditional Higher Education institutions. I hope MOOCs will be able to have a massive reach provided; more people have access to reliable Internet and more robust low cost technological devices.

The growing range of MOOC platform and course content providers promise to create a fertile environment for new and exciting delivery models for information and knowledge provision (Florea et al 2014:35). Therefore challenging the traditional concentration of activities that would normally be concentrated in the institution to a limited set of participants.

However ones looks at the possible future impact of MOOCs, whether negative or positive within the South African Higher Education landscape, I personally hope MOOCs have a positive impact. It is by no doubt that current MOOC projects have already started to influence and change the way institutions and academic staff create and deliver course content material to students, by using a variety of teaching and assessment techniques. MOOCs can be seen as a “disruptive innovation” and or as a “sustaining innovation” (Christensen 2003), depending on how different South African Higher Education institutions decide to implement, govern, manage and roll out different types of course content through identifying the right set of learners or meeting the different needs of existing students in Higher Education institutions (Yuan et al 2013: 12).

It seems currently Higher Educational institutions are using “MOOCs as an experimental space to learn how to educate their on-campus students more effectively”  (Yuan et al 2013: 14). Therefore it is hard to predict the current impact of MOOCs for early adopters of course content provision using the MOOC model. Within the South African Higher Education landscape, MOOCs promise to challenge existing Higher Education business models and policies, which include but are not limited to encouraging institutions to develop distinctive missions, institutional funding structures, course accreditation and admission criteria.

In this context of trying to make predictions with regards to the future of MOOCs in the South African Higher Education landscape, I would conclude by quoting Mark Kassop’s conclusion in his article Ten Ways Online Education Matches, or Surpasses, Face-to-Face Learning, where he states that, “Online education is neither right for all students nor right for all faculty, but it frequently meets the needs of both for an exciting, high-quality educational experience. As with any instructional mode, the quality of online courses varies, but the potential—often met and still expanding—is on a par and in some respects even better than with the traditional [face to-face] mode…. that online education can be done well, and the demand for it is such that we all have to work to make it better. It is here to stay for all of the right reasons”(Kassop 2003).

Posted by Bongani Khoza










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6 responses on "Future of MOOCs within the South African Higher Education landscape"

  1. I agree that MOOC’s have a positive impact. Many people still need to ‘discover’ MOOC’s. I fully agree with the quote of Mark Kassop’s.

    I feel that we must share with people in our workplace and our friends the opportunities that MOOC’s offer and share our personal experiences. This might (I am sure WILL) motivate people to participate.

    • Hi
      For me the steps are simple, it would be to tackle issues of Internet access, and also by starting small, introducing and sharing to colleagues, friends and other students we meet on and off campus about new ways of learning, a simple suggestion to someone thinking about studying a new course, and saying to that person maybe consider doing a MOOC first and see if you would actually like to do a traditional face to face course. Or to someone thinking of doing distance education of he or she can finish a MOOC they more likely to finish a distance type course

  2. Thankyou Bongani for the interesting views. How do you envisage MOOCs affecting th “institutional funding structures” and “admission criteria” ?

  3. I like Kassop’s quote, but i think not many South African academics and teachers will be impressed. What steps would you recommend for us to drive MOOCs in SA?

  4. On the issues of funding I personally think that as more and more MOOC type accreditation is accepted and recognized in the workplace, that will pose challenges to some courses that are taught in Higher Education institutions, and rely on corporate funding that helps to generate a source of graduate interns

  5. Bongani, I agree about the accreditation issue that will have to be addressed. Many people in education’s programme is extremely busy and demanding. This leads to people not having the time to engage with MOOC’s opportuntiies.

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