Title

The digital transformation of higher education–“uni for nothin’, MOOCs for free”?

Document Type

Article

Source of Publication

Journal of Information Technology Case and Application Research

Publication Date

1-1-2022

Abstract

In 2017, the newly-elected, Labor-led government of New Zealand boldly declared access to higher-education to be a universal right and committed to a year’s “fees-free” studentship, with the promise of eventually extending it to an entire first-degree programme. Against such a backdrop, this article will examine the role of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as surrogates for “fees-free” higher education and whether the design of such a Higher Education 4.0 platform is even a credible proposition. More specifically, the research question addressed is: can higher education be made universal in terms of access and costs through the intermediation of MOOCs? The case attempts to provide a socio-technical view of such a “value proposition” and concludes that the charter of higher education extends beyond the distribution of knowledge and skills that may perhaps be better delivered with blended learning models than MOOC platforms. A university is more than a certification of core-competencies in that it also brings about socialization and participation. With the undercurrent of design ideals such as “tech for good”, the academic community must examine whether MOOCs are credible substitutes or at-best, complementary platforms. In this era of Industry 4.0, higher education should not be about the creative destruction of what we value in universities, but their digital transformation. Regretfully, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed gaping holes in the sectors’ readiness for online learning. The article concludes with an agenda for large Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) driven by Action Design Research that could fulfil the aspirations of the key stakeholder groups–students, faculty and regulators. It is intended that the case will inform policy makers on the implementation of a Blended Learning platform which draws from the relative strengths of traditional and online delivery.

ISSN

1522-8053

Publisher

Informa UK Limited

Volume

24

Issue

1

First Page

34

Last Page

60

Disciplines

Computer Sciences | Education

Indexed in Scopus

yes

Open Access

no

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