MOOCs Viable for Community Colleges

For all the efforts underway to make Massive Open Online Courses a major part of American higher education, only a few initiatives have targeted community colleges as a venue for them to reach and educate students.

In a webinar titled “MOOCs and the Completion Agenda: Lessons in Learning, Assessment and Application,” two California-based community college leaders offered unique visions on how MOOCs could help two-year institutions improve student learning experiences. The American Council on Education organized the webinar on Wednesday, which included Dr. Daphne Koller, the co-founder of the MOOC-platform giant Coursera.

Dr. Barbara Illowsky, professor of mathematics and statistics at De Anza College, told more than 350 webinar participants that in California MOOCs could help students prepare for and pass basic assessment exams in English, math and writing. Setting up a system that allows community college students to take basic subject MOOCs prior to their enrollment would likely result in thousands of them being able to place into higher level courses, she explained.

“We have hundreds of thousands of students who really just need to review the content before they are ready to go on and take their assessment test,” said Illowsky, who is on assignment working in the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office in Sacramento, where she serves as the director of the Basic Skills Initiative and oversees Middle College High School grantees.

“I’d like to look at it as a way to save taxpayer dollars, a way for students to take ownership, and a way for us as community college faculty to develop courses to offer them in a pre-assessment way, so that students can have a shorter time to completion,” she noted. <Read more.>

Via Ronald Roach, Diverse Issues in Higher Education.