[摘要] 2014年1月,斯隆联盟发布2013 年度美国网络高等教育调研报告。该报告分为网络高等教育和MOOCs 两部分。通过分析,笔者发现,美国网络高等教育呈现“ 一热一冷”的“ 极化”现象。2013 年三分之一的美国在校生选择了网络教育课程,为历年最高,且网络教育的覆盖率与学校规模呈正相关。通过梳理斯隆联盟发布的2003 至2013 年度美国网络高等教育调研报告发现,11 年间美国网络高等教育的“热”趋势表现在发展规模持续扩大、战略地位上升、教学质量不断提升。这主要得益于美国完善的教育制度保障和教学认证评估机制,也得益于政府、高校、企业间良性的合作。与之形成对比的是,近两年MOOCs 在美国高校遇冷,主要原因在于MOOCs 不符合美国高等教育的发展目标,且缺少可持续发展的运作模式。对中国而言,MOOCs 的初期发展需要政府支持,长远看需要选择恰当的运作模式。否则,MOOCs 会沦为一个教育概念而非良性的教学实践。
Polarization Phenomenon of Online Higher Education
in theUnited States
(School of Journalism,ShandongUniversity, Weihai 264209,China)
Abstract: In January of 2014, the Sloan Consortium released 2013's annual research report titled, Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in theUnited States. This is the 11th research report from the Sloan Consortium on online higher education. The report sets a new record of sampling, with a total of 2,831 college and universities participating in the study (compared to994 in2003), accounting for 59. 9% of the total institutions of higher education in theUnited States, and reflects the importance of this Consortium.
The report consists of two parts: online higher education and MOOCs. It reveals two contrary trends inAmerica's online higher education. The survey shows that one -third of American students choose online education courses in 2013, reaching the highest level in 11 years. The report also shows a positive correlation between the increases in on-line students and the size of the university. 82.5% of colleges and universities implemented online higher education courses or programmes in 2013, which is a decrease from 86. 6% in 2012. The number of students is increased, but the coverage of online higher education decreased. This is an issue worthy of study. The paper therefore analyzes eleven reports from the Sloan Consortium and summarizes the development of online higher education for the past decade. From 2003 to 2013, online higher education in theUnited Statescontinues to expand. The strategic positioning of on-line education and the quality of teaching have also improved.
The fast growth in enrollment during recent years can be attributed to: (i) The lower threshold comparing to traditional higher education promotes students’enrollment; (ii) Recent economic downturn presents greater tuition pressure for students, while online programmes or courses are relatively inexpensive; (iii) Online education appeals to the increasing pool of students over 30 years old who need a higher level online education and (iv) obtain a broader development prospects; ( v) Federal restriction on financial aid for online students have been lifted in 2006, giving students of online education access to federal loans; and ( vi) In information society, the use of online learning has become a way of life for younger generations. Universities are placing more and more emphasis on the strategic role of online higher education. The government is also playing an important role in regulation and accreditation, which results in high quality of online programmes and courses.
However, in 2013, MOOCs, which used to be seen as a revolution in the education sector, are in the “ cold”zone. In2013’s annual report, American colleges and universities are reported to have many cautions when adopting MOOCs.
Although MOOCs and online higher education look similar, the two types of online education have significant differences. MOOCs typically differ from regular online courses in that the participants are not registered students. They are designed for unlimited participation and open access via the web, with no tuition charges. There is typically no credit given for completion of the MOOCs. From the perspective of the government and many universities,MOOCs don't meet the development goals of higher education in theUnited States.
Therefore, MOOCs are not part of America’s higher education system, and they can not obtain government support, from policy to funding. Most universities worry about the quality of the MOOCs. The report finds that universities offering masters’and doctoral degrees prefer MOOCs, because of their teaching models. However, a great majority of American Universities focus on bachelor degrees, which are not suitable for MOOCs.
From the corporate point of view: MOOCs lacks a model of sustainable development. Compared to theU. S.higher education market, there are potentially high demands for MOOCs, but there has not formed a profit model.
The development of MOOCs depends on the market demand, social recognition and profit model. The paper proposes three possible models: public service model, public not-for-profit model, and market-oriented model. Government, universities, enterprises need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of these three models in order to find the best fit.
Key words: Sloan Consortium; massive open online courses;online higher education; polarization phenomenon