- University Life
May 8, 2013
|TO:||AU Faculty and Staff
|FROM:||Scott A. Bass, Provost
|SUBJECT:||MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) Moratorium at AU|
On January 9, 2013, I issued to the deans a moratorium on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) at AU. Recently, the Faculty Senate asked that I write to the campus community to clarify the current moratorium. In collaboration with the Faculty Senate, we are exploring the development of a policy regarding MOOCs at AU. The policy we craft will eventually be reviewed by the Board of Trustees. In the interim, there are many creative online instructional activities other than MOOCs in which the faculty may engage without violating the moratorium. Guidelines for these activities are cited herein.
As you may be aware, the swift rise of MOOCs has created a bit of national stir. A number of leading universities have partnered to offer free online courses through newly formed organizations such as Coursera, Udacity, and edX and now serve thousands of students at no cost. Seeking to lower the cost of higher education, governors, legislators, and boards are exploring the possible requirement that public universities accept academic credit for demonstrated competence based on MOOC offerings.
AU has just begun to set its direction in the online world. We have moved cautiously, but deliberately, to explore offering some of the very best credit-bearing, face-to-face programs online. MOOCs, however, are quite different from our efforts to offer online degree programs in that the courses are free, non-degree, and without credit. As an institution for which tuition is a financial necessity, our focus has been to find ways to offer our quality programs to a wider audience based on a traditional tuition model.
MOOCs raise a variety of important questions related to AU’s underlying economic model. For example, what are the implications for our existing courses offered at full-tuition or should a similar course be available by an AU faculty member through a MOOC that is free? While other universities may have worked through such issues, their financial underpinnings may be different than ours.
Other pertinent questions follow:
These are but a few of the questions that merit further discussion among faculty, deans, legal counsel, and university administration.
Despite these very real concerns, the Faculty Senate has suggested the following guidelines regarding permissible creative online activity (other than the university’s regular tuition-generating, online, or hybrid courses offered through our schools and colleges) that may be undertaken and that do not violate the university’s MOOC moratorium:
The MOOC moratorium, and the aforementioned guidelines, will be in effect until a policy and practices related to this new online venue are approved.