October 11, 2013

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CFHE, UUP take aim at MOOCs

uupdate 10-11-13

UUP is not alone in its battle against the profiteering of higher education through the proliferation of Massive Open Online Courses.

The Campaign for Higher Education, a national group of faculty leaders and higher ed unions, picks up the money trail investors and corporate leaders have followed to squeeze dollars from online higher education in a paper,“The `Promises’ of Online Higher Education: Profits.”

The Oct. 9 report focuses on how corporations, such as Pearson Learning Solutions, Coursera and Udacity, have moved rapidly to profit from online higher education. Constantly shifting, these companies have become adept at dodging bad press (studies that show dismal completion rates for MOOCs) and regulatory changes—all while selling their services as innovative, and providing expanded access for students at a lower cost.

Eileen Landy, UUP’s statewide secretary and a CFHE founding member, is quoted about the study in the latest issue of U.S. News & World Report. "This is not about students, it's about profit," she said during an Oct. 9 conference call with reporters. "We can't blame businesspeople for taking care of their business. But we in higher education need to take care of ours."

During the press conference, Landy cited SUNY’s “excellent track record” in online education, noting that tens of thousands of online degrees have been conferred through the SUNY Learning Network and Empire State College.

“Our faculty and staff support outstanding online and hybrid courses across our system,” she said. “The difference is that the courses, the faculty and the staff are part of the State University, not part of a for-profit enterprise.”

Also in the study, the CFHE asserts that industry insiders, investors and corporate leaders are far more focused their own bottom lines—how to make a buck for their companies—than on the educational quality MOOCs provide and the impact the technology will have on teaching and learning.

Several national publications have run stories on the CFHE report, including Inside Higher Ed and Campus Technology. Those stories can be accessed via the CFHE website.

The study was the first in a series of three reports on MOOCs issued by CFHE in October.

The second report, “The `Promises’ of Online Higher Education: Reducing Costs”, was released Oct. 16.

The final paper,“The `Promises’ of Online Higher Education: Access”,was released Oct. 23.

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