The current MOOCs do not issue diplomas nor course credits, but only small course's completion certificates, without even ensuring that students have done their work themselves. One can even imagine situations in which students pay someone external to do their homeworks or exams (i.e. outsource their homeworks) . They can also open and use many fictitious accounts to better succeed [ANDERS 2012]. The present MOOcs are the realm of plagiarism!
With time, things evolve, we will eventually find way to ensure that students did not cheat and they deserved the credits or diplomas that could be potentially awarded to them by MOOCs [SCHMIDT 2012].
In the short term, the best way to achieve this is by using controlled exams. There exist specialized test centers where after being duly identified, the student is evaluated in a controlled environment (isolated workstation, surveillance camera, no internet access, sometimes even a Faraday cage which is preventing to communicate using radio-frequency). Moreover EdX and Udacity, two of the three main MOOCs from USA have signed agreements with Pearson VUE, which operates some 4,000 test centers in 170 countries [UDACITY 2012], [KOLOWICH 2013]. Online monitoring systems based on the analysis of student behavior, analysis of student's typing style and eye tracking using a personal webcam have been announced recently [EISENBERG 2013].
Meanwhile in parallel is emerging a vast ecosystem for allocation of digital badges and peer recommendations which compete with established educational institutions, but more for short and one-time courses [CAREY 2012a].
The economic model that is looming on the horizon is the following: Education and all educational contents will be free and accessible to all people, but this is the certification process by passing exams that will be for profit [CAREY 2012b]. Here we recognize a strategy of "loss leader" (or freemium), we attract the customer through the « free stuff » and then we sell him the critical complement, in our case, the certification.
In a future post we will see how the emergence of this new business model entails a shift towards learning according to competency-based approach.
Le billet original en français
[ANDERS 2012] Anders, G. How Would You Like A Graduate Degree For $100?, Magazine, Forbes, 5 juin 2012. http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2012/06/05/udacity-sebastian-thrun-disrupting-higher-education/ - consulté en 2013
[SCHMIDT 2012] Schmidt, D. C. Massively Open Online Courses, Baladodiffusion Software Engineering Radio, 7 janvier 2013, Vol. 191. http://www.se-radio.net/2013/01/episode-191-massively-open-online-courses/ - consulté en 2013
[UDACITY 2012] Udacity, Udacity in Partnership with Pearson VUE Announces Testing Centers, Blogue. Udacity Blog, 1 juin 2012,http://blog.udacity.com/2012/06/udacity-in-partnership-with-pearson-vue.html - consulté en 2013
[KOLOWICH 2013] Kolowich, S., How EdX Plans to Earn, and Share, Revenue From Its Free Online Courses, Article de journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 février 2013, sec. Technology. http://chronicle.com/article/How-EdX-Plans-to-Earn-and/137433/ - consulté en 2013
[EISENBERG 2013] Eisenberg, A., Keeping an Eye on Online Test-Takers, Article de journal, The New York Times, 2 mars 2013, sec. Technology. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/technology/new-technologies-aim-to-foil-online-course-cheating.html - consulté en 2013
[CAREY 2012a] Carey, K., A Future Full of Badges, Article de journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 8 avril 2012, sec. Commentary. http://chronicle.com/article/A-Future-Full-of-Badges/131455/ - consulté en 2013
[CAREY 2012b] Carey, K.. Into the Future With MOOC’s, Article de journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 3 septembre 2012, sec. Commentary. http://chronicle.com/article/Into-the-Future-With-MOOCs/134080// - consulté en 2013