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Title: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and the 'Revolution' in Higher Education: Implications for the African Higher Education
Authors: A. Woldegiyorgis, Ayenachew
Carvalho, Luis
Keywords: Moocs, higher education, revolution, open and distance learning
Issue Date: Aug-2015
Abstract: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been around only for less than a decade. In 2011 a pilot course - Introduction to Artificial Intelligence - by Sebastian Thrun and his colleagues at Stanford University gained an incredible success of attracting over 160,000 participants from all over the world. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in the development of higher education - soon a number of MOOC offering initiatives were launched and the popularity of the concept grew wildly. In the consequent years, dozens of top universities of the World opened up for MOOCs and millions of people from all walks of life and all over the world enrolled in the sharply increasing courses offered on such platforms. MOOCs gained coverage by both higher-education-concerned and general media outlets, and soon became a subject of heated debate. While the subject remains under-researched, MOOCs are largely regarded as 'revolutionizing' the way higher education is perceived and conducted. They have offered the promise that higher education can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, regardless of their socio economic backgrounds or their previous academic and work experiences. They also have epitomized the peer learning approach in higher education where a professor, perhaps along with few colleagues, can offer a course for hundreds of thousands of participants at a time, who mainly learn through cooperating with each other. There are both advocates and critics of MOOCs as to their contribution to the development of higher education. Often, however, the debate on the pros and cons of MOOCs is framed in general terms referring to the benefits and challenges embedded within their attributes. This paper tries to explore the potential implications of this new phenomenon for the African higher education. Considering the multitude of challenges and the pertinent limitation of capacity, the paper suggests what African higher education institutions can do to make the best use of this emerging dynamics.
Appears in Collections:Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa

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