Massive Open Online Courses Could Be Massively Game Changing


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Nelson Mandela said it best when he exclaimed the importance of education in modern society. In the eternal struggle against poverty, melancholia, social engineering, and anything that hampers the unbridled pursuits of human curiosity, education is the cornerstone of progress.



MOOCs are a relatively new innovation. They have the potential to turn the education industry on its head and redefine how we impart knowledge from generation to generation. The acronym “MOOC” is broken down into 3 concepts that separate MOOCs from traditional education. The “Massive” component refers to the broad scope of classes that MOOCs provide. Several thousands of students can be taught by an unusually small number of facilitators, sometimes only one. This is the mass-consumption model for education, moving as many students through the course as possible. The largest single MOOC course is an English language learning course that has over 440,000 students enrolled in a single course from over 150 countries. The reason why these courses can grow to such size is partly due to the “Open” component of the MOOC model. This refers to the nontraditional enrollment process; no prerequisites, no application process, no geographic or age restrictions. This openness brings education to more people than ever before, and if you subscribe to the philosophical thought that education is a human right, this massive openness is an extremely altruistic undertaking, aimed at bettering and empowering populations all across the globe. The “Online” component of the MOOC acronym refers to the medium of communication. The communications revolution that was spearheaded by the mass-adoption of the internet has managed to incorporate itself into many facets of modern day life.  It is only a matter of time before education is modulated to adhere to these new technologies. MOOCs, by offering courses online, seek to bring education to students that would traditionally be unable to access education, whether they are from areas of the world that don’t have local academic instructions, or they have schedules that don’t allow them the time to access educational facilities in a traditional manner.

Examples of popular MOOC platforms that have already been deployed are EDx, Duolingo, Acumen, Udacity, Khan Academy, MIT Open Courseware, and, the most popular with over 7 million students, Coursera. MOOCs began to see adoption in the mainstream when platforms like Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas were employed by traditional academic institutions to supplement on-campus education goals. MOOCs started to become popular in the non-academic sphere online around 2011 when several of the examples above began to roll out there presence online.


Purpose Statement

We live a world of exponentially improving technologies. Many facets of life benefit from the steady march of technological innovation. Innovations such as the internet and smartphones have changed, and continue to change, the ways we communicate and interact with changing the way we understand diseases and the full potential of the human body and mind. Innovations in warfare are changing the way power is projected and conflicts are fought. In this world of seeming limitless applications of technology, where are the ground-breaking innovations and technological applications in education?

We’ve seen the importance of education change in the past few decades, with the philosophy that the more educated a population is, the more successful the community as a whole will be. With a new sense of urgency, efforts to make undergraduate and other forms of post-secondary education available to the general population have been rolled out around the world. This is an admiral position and we see the advent of online education provide opportunities that allow nontraditional form of education to reach areas and demographics who once existed beyond its scope. This is arguably a move in the right direction considering the application of new technologies, like the internet, to proliferate education and opportunity.

MOOCs, are the next logical step in furthering education. These MOOCs, by allowing more students the opportunity to access educational material despite their economic, geographic, or education circumstances are pushing the educational envelope by suggesting the creation of a global population that is able to pursue whatever their educational ambitions may be. These courses are open for anyone to enroll, alleviating the need for costly prerequisites and traditional academic restrictions. This “open” element of the MOOC model attempts to reach people that would traditionally not have been able to access education. The “massive” element of the MOOC allows resources to be shared with more students, providing a similar level of education for a fraction of the cost. Online classes are nothing new. Traditional colleges and other post-secondary institutions have offered them for over a decade to supplement a traditionally academic experience. The “online” element furthers the availability to those regardless of their proximity or association with a university. Using the power of “mass-education”, these courses offer content that would traditionally cost a student thousands of dollars and drive them into debt — currently, there is over $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt in the United States. Addressing this quickly inflating burden on an academically hungry society should be at the forefront of any research on fundamental education reform. The alleviation of the financial barrier would allow more people to pursue education who would traditionally not have been able to participate.

The MOOC model attempts to compartmentalize the current model of education into self-paced segments, allowing students to use resources like pre-recorded lectures to get exposed to course content outside of traditional hours of education. This opens the doors to working individuals, those with obligations during the day, night owls, adults with children, and other nontraditional students. The online-only reach of MOOCs removes students from the physical campus that accompanies the understanding of a contemporary, traditional college experience. This traditional college experience is a huge financial element for traditional educational facilities. Online courses alleviate the need for on-campus housing due to students being able to access the content despite whatever spatially strenuous elements are presented. With students physically removed from a campus, the need to provide services and amenities is reduced. The language element is also worth considering. Currently only 12% of MOOCs are offered in a language other than English, offering an opportunity for expansion in a multifaceted linguistic approach. These language barriers pose a unique problem to expanding the scope of the “open” component of the MOOC system.

Any attempt to fundamentally change the education system will be slow and arduous. As a country that leads in educational institutions and educationally exports, the United States stands to see a large portion of money and funding switch hands if the education system is ever reorganized. This type of financial reallocation is bound to upset the powers that be A lot of change will accompany the switch between physical campuses and the online realm. Arguments will be made for the benefits and complications of switching between physical campuses and online campuses that the MOOC concept tries to sell. Mitigating the changes that are beneficial to the current working theory of how education should be provided are the main focus. Introducing ways which education might be improved through this new medium is the secondary focus.


Potential problems

These new innovations come with their own unique challenges that will need to be addressed in order for the MOOC model to succeed and provide the best possible experience for students. Arguably the online communication inherent in MOOCs, the facilitation of instructors and the interaction between peers would be less personal, removing a critical part of contemporary educational philosophy. This philosophy encourages the interaction and collaboration among students and instructors as much as possible. An effort to mitigate and adapt this issue would have to create an innovative solution involving the internet and its role in encouraging facilitation between instructors, secondary facilitators, and peers. Culture elements would likely be “lost in translation” with the shift to strictly online spaces and some might argue that student exchange programs benefit from the immersion in different cultures. In the absence of physical meeting spaces these cultures might not likely be experienced in the same manner through an online medium, removing a critical part of the student exchanging experience. Mannerism that might be critical to communicating ideas might be lost in the switch between the physical and the online world. Classrooms offer students an opportunity to be removed from distraction. IBM, a pioneer of working from home and telecommuting has started to bring its employees back into the office as an effort to encourage collaboration and remove distractions. If professionals are starting to act on perceived downsides of working from home, how can educators justify that the concept of MOOCs are fundamentally different and won’t succumb to the same problems. Computers, being the powerful tools they are and in conjunction with the educational methods of MOOCs courses, pose the potential to be massive distractions for undisciplined online learners. Students, when left to their own instructional devices, may focus less on their work and may be prone to distractions at the expense of their education. Cafeterias would not be necessary to feed thousands of students daily, eliminating the costs and subsidies associated with these elements. School libraries could also be eliminated. Content would be indexable and searchable online or students could take advantage of community resources like public libraries. Discussion would be facilitated on online spaces, eliminating the need for meeting rooms, and other peer-organizing facilities. Gyms and other athletic programs would also not be present in their current form under the MOOC model.


 The role of the instructor is an element that would need to be stringently examined. MOOCs taut the roles of the professors as “hands-off”. Traditionally professors and instructors are evaluated for academic positions with a consideration of what they bring to the physical classroom. For example, great professors may exude a certain classroom presence that would not translate into the online realm. The best teachers in the classrooms might see their teaching styles unable to translate to the online realm. Indeed, instructors which adapt their course to the students, whom they get to know personally in their classroom, would find themselves unable to do this in a MOOC. The role a teacher would play in the MOOC ecosystem might be traditionally different than what has been expect from educators in the past. In the MOOC realm, instructors would have the opportunity to use prepackaged materials and lectures that might have been recorded and distributed to other platforms. As a result of that, there would be an increasing need for teaching assistants, facilitators, and moderators rather than those who create content. A few content creators would control a majority of content that MOOC instructors, who might have created content in a traditional academic setting, distribute without incorporating their own interaction and expertise. They might not be personally familiar with the new teaching these elements, causing their educational efficacy to suffer without existing knowledge on how to educate this new breed of instructors. This line of work might not offer full-time employment to instructors, forcing them to choose how they split their time professionally. This might create a situation where instructors are spread too thin in regards to their teaching scope. If the pay is not there people will not be as emotionally or professional involved. The ability for professors to give quality feedback would be hampered in some cases. Knowing students, their faces, their personalities, their specific mannerisms, and their specific abilities allows teachers to craft a unique learning environment that caters to the strengths and helps alleviate the weaknesses of every student. A professor’s time would be split between possibly thousands of students, affecting the communication with individuals greatly. Modern universities tout the low ratios of faculty to students at their university, claiming the less students a faculty member has to interface with, the better quality of education provided. The MOOC model is inherently the opposite of this established philosophy.


The most extreme departure of MOOCs from traditional education is the “Open” portion of their implementation. In an open educational system, how are prerequisites handled? Are students allowed to register for whatever they wish? The instructor will not be blamed if students fail to compete the work, as MOOCs already have an understood mechanic of the limited resources an instructor can offer in the system and self-determining nature of the programs. Will these elements be lined out a legally binding disclosure of policy to protect the institution from lawsuits? This aligns with the philosophy of self-enrichment that states students should be free to pursue their interests but eliminates the “liberal arts” curriculum that has been philosophically justified for the last century as a cornerstone of a well-rounded education. MOOCs offer a vehicle to change this long-standing standard of education through invoking internal processes and channels in the educational system. How would accreditation work? Would certifications, degrees, and other credentials issued from the institutions be as valuable as those provided by traditional facilities? How would the accreditation process work and would it be effective in eliminating the degree mills that pop up and allow individuals to “pay-to-progress”, stressing more on the financial element than the educational content? Will these elements be able to transfer between traditional universities? Will the credits earned in either institution be interchangeable? Currently there are no graduate level programs. How would athletic programs be adapted to fit this model? Without the funding and the physical element of traditional facilities, these programs might be left in the dust. This is inherently against the philosophy of physical education as a cornerstone of modern education that has been in place since the ancient Greeks first established the idea of post-secondary education.

Degrees Offered

MOOCs have typically not offered undergraduate degree programs a critical part of post-secondary education but that is changing with the introduction of the new programs offered by established MOOC providers as recently as 2015. MOOC providers have begun to offer graduate level programs, Coursera in particular provides an MBA course in data science which costs $20,000, comparable to typical university tuition. This is an interesting trial run to get an idea of how effective this post-secondary education can be. Students who enroll in these programs would have to be aware of the inherent risks involved in blazing the trail of this experimental educational delivery.

Student Behavior

The behavior of the students and the discipline required to operate in an educational facility would be tested in news ways in the MOOC system. How would attendance be calculated and enforced? What would stop students from logging into their class while they’re driving, shopping, or doing some other activity, which would arguably affect the quality of their education experience. How could MOOC platforms create guidelines that would prevent safety issues, hazards, or other complications and alleviate themselves from liability if a student gets into a wreck while trying to submit an assignment before a deadline. How do you prevent the academically dishonest collaboration between students? How do you curtail cheating and violations of the honor code which is a large part of contemporary education? Online courses provide a unique approach to education but also allow unprecedented opportunities to cheat and collaborate in a way that diminishes the quality of education that is provided. In certain institutions, students in online courses are proctored in exams at the campus. This prevents students from using resources that aren’t permitted during exams. The use of “lockdown browsers” attempts to prevent this kind of cheating remotely but tech-savvy students would be able to bypass these restrictions, compromising the integrity of the test. At the end of the day, education is focused on exposing students to new content, enriching their base of knowledge, and encouraging them master content in an academically-sound method.

Completion Rates

One of the major drawbacks of MOOCs since their inception has been the abyssal completion rates. HarvardX and MITx have reported completion rates of less than 5.5%, far lower than traditional universities. For example, in 2015, UNCC had a six-year completion rate of 53.3%. Comparatively, EDx’s completion rate, though not directly comparable with a graduation rate, is drastically lower by almost 10 times. This, on the surface, could seem like a bad thing if the main prerogative of the institution is “completing” or “graduating” students. However, the amount of self-discipline that is required to complete these early iterations of MOOCs makes their completion much more valuable. If you have to choose between an employee who graduates from an institution that pushed out graduates at 53.3% and one that graduates students at 5.5%, which one would your intuition tell you had the harder route to earn their credentials? Which set of credentials at face value seem more impressive? Would these “low rate” credentials be interpreted as only being awarded to the most tenacious learners?

Peer Interaction

How do instructors facilitate academically beneficial conversation and collaboration between students? How would group projects work? It’s not an excessively outlandish thought to imagine all the group communication taking place online through a proprietary interface of the institution or through email. Would this kind of interaction be voluntary or involuntary? Would this be a “participation” grade that affects the student’s final grade? Is this type of communication between students necessary for all students? How do you determine what students need this kind of interaction for a quality education and which students don’t necessarily need this kind of interaction? How do you evaluate the interaction between students if this is decidedly an important part of education?


In the contemporary educational system, the ability to deny applicants creates a sense of exclusivity and creates a sort of economic “club good” that can then be monetarily inflated to reflect its perceived exclusivity. The MOOC model, like many other elements, breaks the mold in the sense that it takes what has traditionally been a club good and drastically increases its reach to consumers. This creates a competing product that may be perceived as inferior due to the price-point and inclusivity. Is this necessarily the case? What kind of effect with this have on the competing models of MOOC-based and traditional-based education. Does this inclusivity or exclusivity naturally increase quality or drive it down in the purely economic sense. Would there be quality control elements included, like withdrawal limits that prevent students from recklessly dropping classes (similar to the 15 credit withdrawal limit at UNCC). Would this infringe on the “Open” part of the model? Currently MOOCs are plagued by incompletion rates due to fact they are so easy to forget and the consequences for nonparticipation are minimal. Would there be a traditional GPA score as we understand it today or would it be replaced by something different and more akin to a pass or fail model similar to public education countries like Finland?


The business side of the MOOC model is very straight forward. It is the natural progression of education reformation in a free-market system. Profitability would be an element that would be worth considering. Would these systems benefit from public endowments like their physical counterparts or would they rely completely on the monetary contributions of students. The appeal of MOOCs would be the commodification of education. Would investors be called to play a part in the funding? Is the model scalable? Where do you draw the line in terms of the number of students in a “classroom”? Is the endgame 100,000 students in one class? 1 million students? Would there be the public/private duality like there is in contemporary education? Who audits all these entities? Would there be a governing body that evaluates the quality of education? Is this necessary? What are the ethics involved with offering this type of course without an auditing process. How would the textbook industry react? Would these materials be provided, included in the fee, or would their necessity be eliminated entirely?

At the end of the day the criticisms of MOOCs boil down to quality of education. If the reach is greater but the product is of less quality is there an ethical component involved in the implementation of this technology. What do the scholars and educators say about the viability of MOOCs and how do they compare to modern day, contemporary systems.


Potential Solutions

All of these problems create a less effective learning environment, undesirably reducing the quality of education that students receive, leading to detrimental macro and micro societal factors. Society suffers by having a less educated society and individuals suffer by not approaching life through with the asset of an educated mind. The quality of education is the most concerning factor of the jump between traditional education environments and the MOOC environment.

Several conceptual solutions have been identified to address the problems that would need to be mitigated, addressed, or have completely new solutions developed for them. These solutions would assure that the quality of education does not suffer from the transfer between online realm and the traditional physical realm of education. Addressed would be a reexamination of the educational philosophy and how students should be evaluated. This would look at how we approach education and how this approach could be readdressed for the information age. How we approach cheating and peer collaboration is something that will be a modulated factor considering the online delivery of education. Students should not be discouraged for collaborating or using resources that promote beneficial life skills like critical thinking, academic skepticism and challenging the status quo. In the wake of professors not being as accessible, students will have to be available as resources to each other, presenting an opportunity to conduct academically beneficial collaboration. MOOC students can take the initiative and create study groups, set up meetings outside of online spaces and jointly tackle collaborative projects, allowing them to learning leadership and teamwork skills. This new medium allows for new approaches to keeping students motivated during the educational process like gamification, the process of taking advantage of instant gratification to incorporate elements that make learning feel psychologically more like a game. The lack of physical elements in the online arena is addressed through alternatives available either in the community or through emerging implementations of online social spaces.

The drastic change in scope MOOCs allow cannot be implemented without a drastic change in how education is administered. Necessity is the grandfather of invention and the online vector for distributing education requires new solutions that might not readily obvious. The administration of course content and how it will be evaluated is the number one concern further implementing MOOCs. Minimizing withdrawal rates and cheating are the most immediate objectives.

Peer Collaboration

Firstly, the definition of “cheating” when assessing the viability of MOOCs is malleable. In the same way that calculators changed the way mathematics is taught, MOOCs might enable a fundamental shift in focus on more advanced conceptual topics, like cheating in the world of online education. We might eventually look back at traditional education the way we look back on slide rules. Acquiring knowledge in the information age is fundamentally different than it has been in the past and one of the major concerns MOOCs should address moving forward.

Collaboration between students is not always a bad thing. When you remove the element of testing, collaboration becomes an important part of a complete education. Working together provides students the experience of working in a group and life, as it turns out, is like a long group project. An inability to collaborate is not only a personal and professional inadequacy of the student, it’s a failure of educators to project the importance of these skills. Instead of approaching collaboration of students, whether academically honest or dishonest, as a problem, this ability should be hailed as an educational innovation and focused on as something to be perfected, providing students with an important tool in their life-skills toolkit.

Critical Thinking

We live in an age where a majority of the world’s collective knowledge is able to be accessed from a device that can fit in your pocket. Not allowing students to become adept dealing with this new application of technology puts them at a disadvantage when they enter the professional workplace. The natural draw to use the collective knowledge body of the internet is inherently part of the human experience. Curiosity and necessity lead people to seek out answers, and MOOCs need to develop students’ abilities to acquire and process this ever-growing body of knowledge.

Parsing and analyzing mass amounts of data are not just for data sciences. The “fake news” epidemic we’re currently witnessing in contemporary popular culture is a direct response to the lack of critical thinking in the population, a direct effect of a poorly equipped populace to deal with vast amount of data and information that requires skepticism, critical thinking, and collaborative discourse to process. Students should be able to resist overt attempts to affect their emotional suggestibility and should be able to articulate and defend their beliefs with logic, which is for more difficult to manipulate. Social engineering is at an all-time high and being an effective citizen in the 21st century requires an information processing toolkit that should be provided by an equally 21st century education.


Contemporary education relies on the questionable methods of “teaching for the test”, although educators are moving away from this, noticing the benefits of teaching for content and the process of thought. When the process of concepts and their associated elements is known, students will be able to develop and learn more advanced stuff in the future instead of seeking to memorize seemingly unrelated and insular facts Studying for a test helps you out one day of your life; the day you take the test. Teaching for an understanding helps you out every day of your life. Like the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. Teach a student the answers to a test and you educate them for a day. Teach them the tools to solve problems and you educate them for a lifetime. Testing in the nascent era of MOOCs will require a complete rework; increasing the quality of education that an already test-reliant system uses as a cornerstone, impart a knowledge of how to solve problems rather than just memorization of materials, and curb the ever-growing epidemic of cheating.

If exams are still present during skill assessment in the future of MOOCs, new technical solutions might be required. A central, controlled environment where tests can be proctored would be necessary. Crafty students, however, will be able to technologically subvert these methods. Due to these issues and the lack of effectiveness in exams, moving towards project-oriented evaluations would be a more effective solution. In the professional world there are no tests, no one-size-fits all solutions, no singular multiple choice questions. There are just problems and possible solutions to the problems. A quality education should reflect the necessities of any path in life and a majority of these paths require solutions that may not be obvious or as straight-forward as test evaluations may suggest and prepare students for. MOOCs provide an opportunity to change the status quo and might foster fundamental changes and what have been universally adopted as facets of modern education, further driving philosophical thought into the future.


In the modern age of instant gratification, criminally reduced attention spans, and constant distractions, some form of incentive and accountability is necessary to keep people focused and involved. To counter the concerning completion rate that plague the current MOOCs, it might be beneficial to incorporate some type of point system or gamification. Instant gratification is a powerful psychological motivator and appropriating this human behavior to the education system would drastically increase its effectiveness. Some type of social media incorporation might be beneficial to motivate the socially-minded. This has to be implemented tactfully. Not everyone would be thrilled about including their nerdy passions in what they disclose to their social base. Those, however, who enjoy the pursuit of knowledge and surrounding themselves with people that have similar interests would benefit greatly from this kind of incorporation. Social media has permeated through every other product on the market, why should education be any different? This kind of content on social media would be beneficial, adding education to the social media record. When people look back centuries from now, they might actually see educational content posted on social media, instead of plates of food, tens of thousands of selfies, and pictures of children. Putting this kind of content on social media might tell a story that isn’t just gluttony, vanity, and breeding. This would also project to future data scientists the critical role the education plays in our contemporary societies.


Educational peer interaction would have to be redefined. Ivan Illich claims the institution is not enough to produce a quality of education, and the personal element as well as the peer element is necessary for a complete product. With the presence of facilitators and instructors spread thinner than traditionally desired, peers will have the chance to pick up the slack and develop their leadership skills. Some sort of peer-mentoring and teacher’s assistance programs would be beneficial. Some type of credit or reward could be offered to encourage students to rise to the responsibility of assisting peers who request or require it. Peer-evaluation could be implemented. Guided discussion could be used with minimal cost to the instructor or peers besides occasionally stepping in to steer or moderate the discussion, tasks which could be delegated to students. The type of discussion would have to be implemented and incentivized in a different manner than it already is. Requiring students to make a certain number of posts a week for a grade is not an organic solution that facilitates collaborative discussion. Use should be incentivized by making the work more natural and valuable for students. For projects, students could share and run ideas by their peers and see their academic evaluation benefit from their involvement in other student’s work that does not directly affect the content they are producing. This type of collaboration satisfies sharing component of the four “learning-enhancing” objective proposed by Illich. This type of exchange would benefit the students by having the discussion available online, helping nonparticipants, as well as encouraging and progressing the learning goal of acquiring and analyzing information through digital channels like discussion forums. This is an adaptation to the new education for information oriented societies.

Physical Presence

The physical element of being present in a classroom, having similar resources that students on a physical campus have access too, and being physically present with other peers is a huge leap the mass-adoption of the MOOC system will have to address. The classroom would be digital, meaning students would have to learn how to manage their time and manage their distractions. Having classes take place at a certain time is something that contemporarily available MOOCs have not tried. Part of the appeal of the MOOC is to accommodate students who may not have the temporal resources to dedicate to a traditional academic setting and experience, so this element cannot be ignored. However, the mass adoption of full-time students with the time to spare would benefit from a structure schedule where they have to be present for online lessons or meeting, even if the content is prerecorded. This guarantees that students will not have an insular experience when logging on to their online content. Other students will be present and can communicate in real time about the lectures, emulating the social and educational experience offered by a physical classroom. A study published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning states students who are socially involved in MOOCs are more likely to complete the course. A lot of physical elements of a university are not necessary when a completely digital route is taken. A lot of amenities on campus; food options, housing, parking, and many services that supplement these are not required when the educational content is delivered digitally. Physically meeting spaces can be provided without at the additional, supplementary service, for those students who prefer the face-to-face interaction in their academic experience.

Physical Education

Physical education can still be provided in a MOOC setting. In the absence of infrastructure provided by a university, the community’s public resources can be utilized. This would give students who are in geographically similar circumstances a chance to meet with other students and use and experience community resources like parks, which often go underutilized and underappreciated. This will make every day feel like a field trip and will help break up the monotony of coming to the same campus and using the same equipment each day. Students who take on these academic endeavors could foot the costs themselves, alleviating the MOOC operators of the financial burden. The students would have to absorb the cost of these activities but that would be no different compared to attending a physical location where these facilities and activities would be paid for in the form of fees. This would spare other students who aren’t benefitting or taking part in these programs from subsidizing those that do, compartmentalizing costs and tailoring costs to the personal academic experience provided.


Addressing accreditation is a critical component of the educational process. Without a thorough audit of the education being provided, a student, without doing their due diligence concerning their educational consumption, would be unsure if their education is of federally or professionally acknowledged quality. If someone is taking a MOOC to advance their professional skills or viability in the workplace, they should feel guaranteed that their education is relevant to whatever interests they are pursuing?

The accreditation process should take into account the differences in education MOOCs offer in comparison to traditionally offered courses. A different set of guidelines and evaluation practices should be implemented to reflect the change, account for the different medium, and evaluate the academic quality, both professionally and personally. Consumers ultimately bear the responsibility of whether MOOCs are treated like a degree from a traditional university. If the market is flooded with MOOC educated individuals, employers will have to start making concessions and investigating the compatibility of the individuals with their operations. Today, the situation is no different. Educational opportunities can be cutthroat, offering what the claim to be professional viable degrees, which turn out to be worthless. Accreditation is a critical part of this process and some research will have to be done to assure students and employers that MOOCs and the education they provide will stand the test of professional scrutiny.

Barcelona FLAN presentation 27th January 2017 – @lisaharris @nic_fair – University of Web Science Institute


In this methodology many interesting new problems and solutions are yet undeveloped for the implementation of this new technology. In this proposal, we examined potential problems that may be present or arise in the MOOC system, their immunizations which can be implemented or investigated to protect against these problems, or implement alternatives that would move the philosophy of education in to the information age, and the counterarguments to the fact that they may not be problems in the first place. We take an objective look at the elements of this system and how it could possibly effects both the students and instructors in this new, innovative system.

In conclusion, MOOCS offer a unique opportunity to rewrite the rules of higher education. Some changes are drastic and the implementation of whatever changes are deemed appropriate would be slowly implemented. No one wants to see an education system that they have experience with change and have the effectiveness not immediately obvious.

The role of instructors and students might benefit from being redefined. Peers can collaborate in a way that was not possible due to the ubiquitous nature of the internet. It might be time to reevaluate the way the educational philosophy is applied to education. Critical thinking and solutions to evaluate the abilities of students might need to be reworked to account for changing technologies and epistemological methods in which knowledge is acquired in contemporary society. Administrative issues like accreditation and acceptance are initially redefined by the concept of “open courses”. This bold solution to increasing the scope and availability of education will need to be addressed by making sure the product being provided is comparable to the traditional institution, or, as a service, it will continue to remain just another gimmick to supplement the already established, flawed system. The physical infrastructure and education that would be bypassed by moving the system online is mitigated by using community resources and allowing peers to organize solutions that fit their learning style. The more options the better and MOOCs are certainly an opportunity to redefine how individuals approach learning in the 21st century. In 50 years we may look back and wonder why we ever spent time in windowless rooms in institutions with tens of thousands of people, getting a quality education on how to find parking.



Mapping Dropout Rates in Charlotte, NC

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

-Nelson Mandela

This project looked into the dropout rates in the city of Charlotte over 4 different years; 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012.

I used ArcMap to map the dropout rates that were reported in the Quality of life reports the city of Charlotte publishes yearly.

Quality of Life reports

These pdf reports are deprecated after the release of the new GIS applet to report this data.

Quality of Life Explorer


I created a spreadsheet to curate the data of several of the reports.

I then compared the data to create the values of change. Where no values were present, I left the value as null. If there was no data in 2008 but data in both 2004 and 2010, I compared 2004 directly to 2010.

For 2012 I used the included spreadsheet data. The shapefiles were different because the Quality of Life organization changed how they collected data, making direct comparison with the software difficult.


I used the following scheme from colorbrewer for the data maps and used an included ArcMap scheme for the change maps.

color brewer.PNG

I included a map with all 4 years visible for easy comparison.

charlotte dropout map.png

To classify the data I joined the excel spreadsheet with the neighborhood shapefile, using the NSA neighborhood identifier.


I used the following 6-class manual classification across the 4 maps.


I used the following 9-class manual classification to map the change maps.


This project gave me exposure to the manual input of data, which is mechanical and boring but I find intrinsically rewarding for some reason. I had to manually enter the data from the quality of life pdfs to a spreadsheet which was time intensive, taking about a hour per report. In the future if I’m ever parsing data in this format, I’ll use an autoscrolling feature to automatically scroll the reports while entering the data at the save time. This, in theory, would take half as long to enter the data.  This exposure to data entry opens the door to other presentations of data through ArcMap and other data manipulation applications in the future.