You are here:

MOOCs for High School: Unlocking Opportunities or Substandard Learning?

Education Next Volume 14, Number 3, ISSN 1539-9664


If 2012 was the year of the MOOC--massive open online course--then 2013 was the year the MOOC hype returned to Earth. Largely lost in the coverage in both years, however, was the impact MOOCs might have in high schools. Although the jury is still out on that question, high schools around the country are experimenting with adding MOOCs to their offerings. MOOCs burst into the public consciousness in 2011 with the online debut of a Stanford professor's course on artificial intelligence that drew 160,000 students from around the globe. The professor, Sebastian Thrun, followed up the course by creating a company, Udacity, which offered free online courses to the world and spawned the formation of a new sector in education--the so-called MOOC companies. Most notably, MIT and Harvard joined forces to create a nonprofit MOOC provider, edX, and two other Stanford professors formed Coursera, which initially signed up several elite colleges to create free online courses. By the end of 2013, more than 5 million students had enrolled in Coursera courses, and the company had raised over $85 million in venture financing. In 2013, people realized that the world might be more complicated. The low completion rates--often less than 10 percent--for MOOCs drew attention: some wondered if the courses the MOOC companies offered were relevant for the students who might benefit most from a low-cost college experience, and higher-education commentators asked whether students attending college were buying access to academic content or something else, like the credential or the network, that a college offers. This article evaluates the plausibility of the original form of the MOOC transforming teaching and learning in high schools. It goes on to discuss the positive and negative features of MOOCs in comparison to the online course content K-12 schools have had access to for far more than a decade like Apex Learning, Aventa Learning, Compass Learning, and Edgenuity.


Horn, M.B. (2014). MOOCs for High School: Unlocking Opportunities or Substandard Learning?. Education Next, 14(3), 82-83. Retrieved December 9, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ERIC on November 3, 2015. [Original Record]

ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Copyright for this record is held by the content creator. For more details see ERIC's copyright policy.