Report after report have revealed some of the inadequacies of massive open online courses: low completion rates, low engagement, inability to have impact with those who need education the most. So far, MOOCs have not lived up to the hype. But, as Maria Konnikova explores in the The New Yorker, there is a methodology for massive learning that dates back to 1962: catering to the individual. It’s a model already seen in GRE testing, which, among other techniques, switches up the sequence of questions based on the individual’s progress. She writes:

“As it is, individualized methodology has largely gotten lost in the excitement over technological capabilities and large-group approaches. According to numerous interviews I conducted, and studies I read, very few MOOCs are using anything like control theory as part of their approach to teaching.”

Why MOOCs are Failing the People They’re Supposed to Help – The New Yorker

On July 23rd, 1969, Geoffrey Crowther addressed the inaugural meeting of the Open University, a British institution that had just been created to provide an alternative to traditional higher education. Courses would be conducted by mail and live radio. The basic mission, Crowther declared, was a simple one: to be open to people from all walks of life.

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