Recently, the New York Times ran an article on Massively Open Online Courses or MOOCs. Written by a respected observer of national higher education trends, it analyzes an issue we have spent time discussing on our campus: separating hype from reality in online learning and MOOCs.
In short, the article concludes that MOOCs have not fundamentally changed the landscape of higher education as some have predicted. Completion rates, generally, are not high. The vast majority of students who take these courses drop out early. In fact, the bulk of people taking online courses in these formats already have college degrees. They are using MOOCs to supplement skills or interests they already possess -- the business graduate, for instance, who has created a start-up company and is interested in further refining his or her skills.
At UK, with the leadership of our Board, faculty and analytics staff, we have taken a different approach -- one that is showing promising potential. In our 2014-15 Operating Budget, we are allocating $1 million (recurring) over the next three years in grants to UK faculty to test different approaches to online learning, including hybrid courses. Partnering with a larger online provider (Coursera), we have focused early efforts on improving readiness of high school students for courses they will be challenged by in college, such as Advanced Chemistry. If they are successful in this context, we will help them transition to accredited credit-bearing college courses from UK. We also have piloted a course in psychology, focused on helping students prepare for college, and are preparing college readiness courses in areas such as physics.
Last year, more than 40,000 young students -- many of them from high schools in the state that don't provide advanced placement credit in areas such as chemistry -- enrolled in these courses. As with other offerings across the country, we found that completion rates were not high. However, the goal with our approach is to help supplement the education high school students are receiving to better prepare them for college.
We must continue to invest in approaches to teaching and learning that blend the best that technology has to offer with the latest approaches to learning and collaboration that takes place inside the classroom.