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Purdue cautiously moving ahead with MOOCs

The development of Massive Open Online Courses – or MOOCs – continues at Purdue.

The university requested proposals from professors earlier this year to begin teaching this fall. However, administrators are still assessing the effort it takes to implement and manage such a course, which could have thousands of students enrolled from around the world.

President Mitch Daniels says it’s a costly undertaking to do it correctly.

“You’ve got to have somebody who is interacting, even if it’s remotely, with the student, helping them over the tough parts or things they don’t understand,” he says. “So, it proves to be both trickier and more costly than some people were imagining at the dawn of this new phenomenon.”

Daniels points to Western Governors University-Indiana and Georgia Tech’s new online offerings. He says those use one faculty member for every 60 students who take a course online.

While he’s unsure of MOOCs at Purdue, Daniels sees the need for more online courses. He says the flexibility those offer students has led to increased demand.

“I certainly think, among our four (Purdue) campuses, we are not doing nearly enough to use online education to both take our best teaching to everybody else and, you know, be a little more efficient in the process.”

The university is increasing the number of summer classes offered online. There were a little more than 80 courses offered in the summer of 2013 and already more than 100 are planned for 2014.

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