MOOCs in the Developing World: Hope or Hype?

Ben Wildavsky


The advent of massive open online courses was accompanied by bold claims about their potential to democratize access to high-quality education in poor countries. But critics contend that MOOCs have come nowhere near meeting those expectations. Most students already have degrees and live in developing countries, and only a small percentage complete their courses. Still, in absolute numbers MOOCs provide opportunities to many underserved students in the developing world. This is likely to continue as MOOCs evolve to provide blended learning and to take advantage of mobile technology. MOOCs should be viewed as an experiment, a fast-changing form of technology-enabled pedagogy that is likely to do far more good than harm in poor countries.


MOOCs; developing countries; online learning; access to higher education; democratization of knowledge; neocolonialism; completion; pedagogy; Africa; Coursera; edX;

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