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Are MOOCs Just Moneymaking Scams? Providers Challenged To Substantiate Grandiose Claims

Campaign for the Future of Higher Education claims online education "is a billion-dollar business motivated more by profits than quality education for students."

Are online education providers serving the masses or just amassing wealth for themselves? That's the question the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education wants answered. The group today challenged the leaders of edX, Udacity and Coursera to a public debate "about the claims and promises being made by the online education industry about the quality of its higher education programs."

As part of the challenge, CFHE released a video ("Online Ed: Teaching Millions or Making Millions") that questions those very claims — including the claim that online providers democratize education or otherwise make quality education available to those who need it most — those who are, the group pointed out, least likely to have Internet access at all.

The video itself was produced following the release of three working papers issued last year questioning the basic positive assumptions about online education — that it improves access and reduces costs for students while at the same time providing a high-quality education.

"Faculty and staff members have developed and implemented quality online learning tools for many years and we appreciate the value of these tools," said Susan Meisenhelder, CFHE spokesperson, in a statement released by CFHE today. "But the gold rush to integrate online education products into higher education curricula without sufficient analysis of what works for students and what doesn't is very troubling to say the least. The CFHE video depicts the findings in our reports — online education is a billion-dollar business motivated more by profits than quality education for students. The facts about online higher education must be exposed so that higher education institutions can make good choices about course offerings and so that families and students can ensure they are on the right path for a successful future."

The video can be viewed now (embedded above) but will also be formally unveiled as part of a CFHE meeting later this week that will involve "other groups concerned about higher education." It will be held in Albany, NY May 16-17.


About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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