Are Udacity Couses worth paying for?

The euphoria with online courses has subsided

The expectations were great. When Massive Open Online Courses (Moocs) were offered on a large scale around six years ago, there was talk of the democratization of education, a revolution in the education system. The "New York Times" named 2012 the "Year of the Moocs". Not only the platforms on which the courses were offered developed rapidly, but also elite universities increasingly offered courses on platforms such as Coursera or edX. Without formal admission requirements and, above all, without tuition fees, it was possible to take part in lectures on different subject areas via an internet connection.

In the meantime, however, the euphoria has subsided. According to the Class Central website, Moocs platforms were able to attract 23 million new learners worldwide last year, but the growth could not be increased compared to 2016. There are now 81 million registered learners on these platforms. For Jutta Pauschenwein, head of the ZML - Innovative Learning Scenarios at the FH Joanneum, expectations have not been met either. "Democratization didn't quite work out," she says. The business model was missing.

Connectivity and cool

She herself took part in a Mooc for the first time in 2011, a so-called cMooc, in which the course depends very much on the participants and the activities in the group. The C stands for Connectivity. In retrospect, the C for pommel wine also stands for cool. The first Mooc was offered at the FH Joanneum in 2014, and here too the feedback was consistently positive. It has been shown that the completion rate increases when the courses are moderated and the participants receive feedback, she says. Then Moocs would surely have great potential. In any case, local universities have the know-how to set up a Mooc relatively quickly.

According to Class Central, there was a strong increase in courses. More than 800 universities have now offered at least one Mooc. The total number of Moocs on offer increased from 6,850 to 9,400 in 2017. For Pauschenwein it is not only because of these numbers that the "massive" is still given, "open" has always been regulated differently, but less and less of it remains. The trend is towards fee-based courses. Of course there are still many open moocs, but finding them will be more difficult.

New opportunities

Nevertheless, Moocs will change the university landscape. Pauschenwein is convinced that a lot will come from the boys. Because generations Y and Z already have experience with e-learning offers, they like the type of teaching at the university less and less. Nevertheless, it is unclear where it will go. In the USA, there are entire bachelor's and master's degrees in the Mooc range, the degree is only available for a fee, and you often have to pay for the grading of individual tasks. The Bachelor in Computer Science from the University of London on Coursera costs around 15,000 euros.

Another trend is towards self-paced offers (Spoc), which can be started at any time and in which the participants themselves choose the learning pace. Feedback or support is hardly possible. In any case, a Spoc cannot keep up with the advantages of a Mooc, says Pauschenwein. Because: With a well-made Mooc, the motivation can come from the participants, which is completely lacking in the self-organized offers.

At the universities, she would like more courage to set up Moocs and see what happens. Learning together has great potential, also at adult education centers or AMS courses. "Everyone should look for a Mooc that really interests them and learn there. Because otherwise you never have the potential of so many different participants." (Gudrun Ostermann, August 10, 2018)