Are MOOCs Just As Effective As Online College Courses?


In the past two years, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have become increasingly popular in the online learning sphere.

While MOOC enrollment can sometimes reach over 100,000 students, academics are beginning to wonder about how effective they are in providing a quality education. How successful are MOOCs in helping students acquire, retain, and apply freshly-learned knowledge?

In a recent OpEd article on, Marian Stoltz-Loike, vice president of online education for Touro College, wonders if MOOCs can truly be considered “education” or if perhaps they would be better described as “a new form of entertainment.”

In most MOOCs, “there’s no dynamic interchange between students and faculty,” she says. “You may love the History Channel, but you don’t expect a college degree for watching it for 1,000 hours.”

A true and solid online education consists of much more than watching video lectures or reading selected articles. Real education must include teaching critical thinking, creativity, and other higher-order thinking skills that can only come through collaborative learning, discussions, mentorship, multiple instructional methods, and personal interaction with peers and faculty. These factors are hard to come by in a MOOC course that has thousands of students, but are much easier to incorporate into smaller online college courses.

Read Marian Stoltz-Loike’s full OpEd on

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