With the popularity of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) many community colleges (2 year college) and small universities are worrying that they cannot compete with this type of “on line schools” that can enroll millions of students but do not charge money. Last month (Oct,1 2013) Bill Gates, the Microsoft Chairman and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invited over 2000 community college leaders and university professors to Seattle and urged them to look at MOOCs as something that could help them to improve the quality of education rather than something that may compete with them.
Mr. Gates urged them to consider MOOC as additional resources to help them to improve their teaching by incorporating MOOC lectures into their trainings to make colleges more efficient. He said: “”I would say this is a new period of experimentation, but we will learn much faster if we engage with MOOC. By using MOOC lectures, professors will have more time to discuss materials with students, understand what they know and do not know well, and have time to explain to them rather than the traditional lecture where professors talk and students just listen. Other ways of improving quality of education are discassed on www.studentshare.net
Mr. Gates added: “The quality of MOOC lectures are extremely good, no individual performance is likely to come up to that level. For someone who did not finish college, I have taken a lot of courses from MOOC to improve my knowledge.”
Mr. Gates acknowledged that many faculty members felt threatened that their lectures could be “outsourced” to other professors at top universities, which produce much of the MOOC content. He said: “Of course it is controversial that MOOC can take over your lecture, but when you get a lot of great lectures, you will have more time for personalized instruction in your classroom. With more lectures can be watched online at home, students could spend less time in schools, freeing up classroom space to accommodate more students. Computer systems can generate an infinite number of worksheets with embedded quizzes, as well as with tips that instructors could then review to determine what students are struggling with. In online lectures, questions pop up every three to five minutes, to keep students alert and to make sure they are ready to move on to the next section. They can work at their own pace, focusing on specific topics rather than having to move in lock step through a remedial-math sequence with students who might be having trouble with other parts.”
Mr. Gates confirmed that many MOOC projects have received financing from the Gates Foundation, which he has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into efforts to educate everybody who wants to learn.