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The Internet and Higher Education

June 16, 2020

Evaluating Access, Quality, and Equity in Online Learning: A Case Study of a MOOC-Based Blended Professional Degree Program

Joshua Littenberg-Tobias, Justin Reich

Abstract

Many higher education institutions have begun offering opportunities to earn credit for in-person courses through massive open online courses (MOOCs). This mixed-methods study examines the experiences of students participating in one of the first iterations of this trend: a blended professional master’s degree program that admitted students based on performance in MOOC-based online courses. We found that the blended master’s program attracted a cohort of highly educated mid-career professionals from developed countries who were looking for more flexible alternatives to traditional graduate programs. Success in the online courses was correlated with higher levels of prior formal education and effective use of learning strategies. Students who enrolled in the blended graduate program reported being academically prepared for their coursework and had higher GPAs (3.86, p<0.01) than students in the residential program (3.75). The findings of this study suggest that the technological affordances of MOOC-based online and blended degrees will neither transform higher education nor solve its most stubborn equity challenges, but there may be particular niches where they provide a valuable service to learners in particular programs and contexts.

Citations

Littenberg-Tobias, J., & Reich, J. (2020, July 17). Evaluating Access, Quality, and Equity in Online Learning: A Case Study of a MOOC-Based Blended Professional Degree Program.

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