Could MOOCs revolutionize international student recruitment and transnational education?

MOOCs–Massive Open and Online Courses, have been in news for their potential to be “revolutionary” in learning space. Tom Friedman says that “Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary.”

With innovative, adaptive, high-quality learning opportunity offered at a low-cost, perhaps, MOOCs are at the cusp of making a big breakthrough. It is not only going to increase competitive pressure on for-profit online education sector but also traditional not-for-profit universities and colleges. Both of them have to justify their cost-structures and value of credential in times of increasing competition and decreasing resources.

In the world of international higher education, I believe that MOOCs offer two unintentional influences:

1. International Student Recruitment:
Given that international student recruitment is a costly and complex affair which is becoming even more challenging with the limitations of using recruitment agents, MOOCs offers an innovative model of engaging prospective students through content and cultivating a pipeline without losing control of process.

When you buy a car, you take a test drive, wouldn’t it be a great value for prospective students to take a test course before they apply?

There is already an evidence of significant interest for MOOCs from abroad. In fact, for Coursera, nearly three-fourth of the course-takers are from outside the US.

One of the companies “Udacity has suggested that it might double as a headhunter for companies that might like to hire some of its more impressive students….Udacity would offer to match students with companies that have enlisted Udacity as a talent scout.”

2. Transnational Education: 
At another level, MOOCs will propel the growth of transnational education and glocal students. I define glocals students as having global aspirations with local experiences. Glocals represent the segment of students who typically seek transnational education (TNE) including international branch campuses, twinning arrangements and online education.

For example, more than 113,000 students studied wholly overseas for a UK qualification through “Distance, flexible or distributed learning” in 2010-11. Likewise, more than 28,000 international students were enrolled in Australian offshore programs through distance learning in 2010.

Now, American institutions could enter transnational education market in an innovative way through MOOCs.

Currently MOOCs courses are not credit bearing, however, as pathways for translating “prior-learning” from MOOCs into credentials emerge, more glocal students will start pursuing MOOCs.
Tina Grant, director of the National College Credit Recommendation Service notes “Credit recommendations for MOOCs could serve as a ‘bridge’ between the nontraditional and traditional college settings by helping those students who want to take advantage of MOOCs and still earn a college degree.”


Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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