Staying current with the constantly changing world of online education is no small task. Deciding which trends are worth implementing or even paying attention to is also a challenge, especially in higher education.
New “MicroMasters” online programs are something higher education institutions should be paying attention to. An article in Washington Monthly explains that these “MicroMasters” programs are being offered by some major universities including Arizona State and Michigan. These programs are free and open to anyone who wants to take them. The program requires those completing the course to pay a $1,000 fee to receive a certificate of completion.
It is easy to dismiss this as another type of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that have typically had very low completion rates and are often over-hyped. These “MicroMasters”, however, offer possibilities that should be considered. They are being offered as a way to explore a possible master’s degree, give a master’s applicant a better chance for admission, and give actual credit hours for master’s programs at some institutions.
Rather than just dismiss these new programs because they are different and make us uncomfortable, we should explore ways to use or improve upon these ideas. Status Quo is no longer acceptable for higher education when it comes to online learning if for no other reason than the intense amount of competition. We must pay attention to these trends and consider how they could be improved upon and implemented, or we may lose students and money to universities that do.