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The question of whether MOOCs pose a threat of extinction to brick-and-mortar institutions is akin to the argument of whether digital music destroyed, is destroying, or will destroy the music industry. The answers to the latter questions are no, no and no, while the answer to the former is still no. MOOCs are goosing the educational landscape today the same way Napster and mp3s roused a coasting music industry in the early aughts. “The paint is barely dry,” wrote Laura Pappano about emerging MOOCs in 2012, “yet edX, the nonprofit start-up from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has 370,000 students this fall in its first official courses. That’s nothing. Coursera, founded just last January, has reached more than 1.7 million — growing ‘faster than Facebook,’ boasts Andrew Ng, on leave from Stanford to run his for-profit MOOC provider.” The appeal of MOOCs, much like the appeal of Napster and other music-sharing sites, is affordability (sometimes free), access, speed, … Continue reading

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