Monday, December 23, 2013

MOOCS Letter to the President - Science & Technology Advisory Council

The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) has released a December 2013 report to President Obama evaluating the present and future impact of MOOCs. The report concludes:
After only two years of practical experience with MOOCs and related technologies, it is too early to tell whether substantial gains in the quality of instruction, access, achievement, and cost will be realized. But there is no question that the new technologies offer the potential for expanding access for millions of Americans, not only to college degrees, but to a wide range of effective and low-cost training modules and courses that might assist in providing the vocational skills that a twenty-first century workforce needs. To be truly successful in promoting both expansion of access and improvement in the quality of education, the MOOCs and their relatives will need to (1) employ excellent technology, (2) foster excellent pedagogy, (3) apply the results of learning science, (4) deploy new techniques of big data analysis to provide rapid feedback to teachers and learners, and (5) cultivate an online social ecosystem to enhance peer-to-peer learning and teaching. Although the jury is out, and there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical, PCAST believes that all of these conditions for success can potentially be met.

The recommendations that follow reflect PCAST’s thinking about how the Federal Government might most effectively contribute to achieving the potential of MOOCs to help address the Nation’s challenges in higher education. Going forward, we intend to explore the potential of information technology to improve K-12 education, technical training, and adult education as well as higher education, and we will report on our findings in the future.

Read the full report at