MOOCs are still worth offering

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were once touted as an “education revolution.” But today, few people working in academia believe their growth can — or should — continue unchecked.

According to a recent study by the Babson Survey Research Group, only 26 percent of academic leaders believed in 2012 that MOOCs were unsustainable. By 2014, 50.8 percent of them believed the same, while only 16 percent believed the courses were sustainable.

The study also indicated that the percentage of universities with MOOCs has plateaued at about 14 percent.

MOOCs have long attracted criticism from those who believe the impersonal feel of an online course cannot replace valuable teacher-student interactions. Their proponents, however, emphasize that MOOCs are crucial because they’re open to anyone with Internet access.

The University of Minnesota introduced at least five MOOCs in May 2013. Within a month of their launch, the courses had attracted between 8,000 and 16,000 students, according to a recent Minnesota Daily report.

We believe people should accept MOOCs as a complement to, and not a replacement of, the traditional educational process. At this point, it seems completely unrealistic to expect MOOCs to herald any kind of education revolution.

But even if they can’t replace traditional educational systems, we feel they still have immense value in the fields of advertisement and public outreach. For — at the very least — public relations purposes, we believe the University should continue to offer MOOCs for as long as it can afford to do so.