MOOCs Will Still Lead to a Revolution in Higher Education, Says Prof. Oakley

“MOOCs will enhance classrooms, but also, they will serve as competition in classrooms, and that’s going to force our universities, I think, to up their game,” said in an interview at EdSurge Professor Barbara Oakley, author of the “Learning How to Learn” online course at, which has had two million registered students.

These are some of the extracts of the interview:

  • “It’s in professors’ best interest, often, to dismiss and disparage MOOCs because, well face it, they’re competition.For example, at San Jose State University, they had an experiment where low-cost MOOCs allowed people to take courses that they simply couldn’t get into because there weren’t enough seats in the classrooms, and it was really causing problems. They could do this for very low-cost, and the faculty revolted. They made it clear during their meetings that it had nothing to do with the students and the students’ needs. It was faculty fear about their jobs.”


  • “Moving a university is a little bit like moving a cemetery.”


  • “Most recently, there was a comparative study at MIT where students, if I remember correctly, did a little bit better in the MOOC course on the same standardized test than the people who took it in class. And they preferred the MOOC course to the in-class course.”


  • “The University of Colorado is now working towards having MOOCs so that people can take them for college credit. Once they begin becoming broadly available for college credit, it’s going to start changing the scenario of higher education. Largely because it will provide for more competition and lower cost for college degrees, which I think are good things for students today.”