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Massive Open Online Courses and the Future of Higher Education

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Contemporary Technologies in Education


In this chapter, I examine potential contribution of massive open online courses (MOOCs) to universities and their students. Rather than speaking about MOOCs in the abstract, I examine actual MOOCs that point to future developments. I locate three areas where MOOCs can make positive contributions: return on investment, new revenue streams, and revolutionary new course and credential formats. The first two contribute to university students, faculty, and administrative leaders within the entrenched university. The new formats indicate a shift from that paradigm to a “Higher Education 2.0” paradigm—the revolution of access to online learning where outcomes can be documented through badges, certificates, and nanodiplomas. Higher Education 2.0 offers a pathway to employment that by-passes conventional universities and their degree programs.

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  1. 1.

    Other organizations such as ALISON had previously offered free online courses, but these were not labeled “MOOCs” until the term came into general use after 2012.

  2. 2.

    See the MOOC platform Coursmos,

  3. 3.

  4. 4.


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Waks, L.J. (2019). Massive Open Online Courses and the Future of Higher Education. In: Adesope, O.O., Rud, A.G. (eds) Contemporary Technologies in Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-89679-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-89680-9

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