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Higher Education Reform: Looking Back – Looking Forward

Second Revised Edition


Edited By Pavel Zgaga, Ulrich Teichler, Hans G. Schuetze and Andrä Wolter

The central focus of this book is the concept of higher education reform in the light of an international and global comparative perspective. After decades of far-reaching reform, higher education around the world has profoundly changed and now has to face the challenges of the present. This volume takes a close look at these changes, the drivers of change, their effects and possible future scenarios. In their contributions the authors discuss a variety of basic concepts: learning and teaching in higher education; financing and quality assurance; governance change; massification vs. equity and equality; internationalization and mobility, the implementation of lifelong structures in higher education.
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MOOCs: Unbundling in Higher Education


MOOCs as conflicted goals

Rapidly rising costs. Declines in university-age enrollments. Reduced government support. Declining public trust. Generational skills gap. Weak job markets and student debt. Complicated asylum and migration integration needs. Tensions between globalization needs and preservation of local cultures. No wonder higher education institutions (HEIs) in many countries have turned to technology for relief. Proceed with caution.

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are still growing rapidly, as shown in Figure 23.1. This growth is linked to the push and pull of today’s rapidly changing technologies, complex political economies, and revenue risks. MOOCs’ distributor networks (Coursera, edX, etc.) are tapping into escalating needs for mass access to education for career development, lifelong learning, economic development and civic engagement. A strategic recognition of these needs at a generational level might allow technology to develop successfully with HEI partners. In addition to helping HEIs broaden their focus, MOOCs experiment with the costs and benefits of expert teaching and peer learning.

In their earliest days, MOOCs were designed and managed by individual faculty members. Today, their ownership has shifted both to HEI and distributor institutions. For example, private sector venture capital markets have invested in some US-based MOOC distributors such as Udacity and Coursera, framing them as private technology startup companies. Concurrently, some governments, focused on national development interests, have invested in MOOC distributors such as Edraak in Jordan, FutureLearn in the UK, Miriada in Spain, and Xuetang in China (Gibney 2013, Walters 2014)...

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