Let the mainstreaming begin

There was a piece in Inside Higher Ed the other day, State Systems Go MOOC, that reported on ten state system universities in the United States signing up with Coursera to conduct several pilot projects with various goals. Reading the comments below the article, all kinds of Machiavellian plots, conspiracy theories and end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios abound, but I see things far more simply. This development is a natural consequence of higher education institutions looking to mainstream the disruption.

The elite universities can potter along experimenting with MOOCs and do so largely to enhance their profiles, but for those institutions lower down the food chain there is no alternative but to enter into the fray, or risk being out of it completely.

This development, together with the announcement about the Georgia Tech-Udacity tie-up a week or so ago, now means that MOOC providers are out in the open. They are businesses with business models rather than philanthropic concerns, and it is time for the higher education sector to awaken from its slumber.