My Site Pearson HigherEd Blogs : Chapter 7: Innovating higher education in Australia and world-wide Pearson HigherEd Blogs : Chapter 7: Innovating higher education in Australia and world-wide

Chapter 7: Innovating higher education in Australia and world-wide

To get cracking…

…revise pages 186-206 of Chapter 7 and really get your head around the theory in the text. Then, read this news article reporting on a government plan to use massive online open courses – or MOOCs – so that Australia can capture 10 percent of the world market in online education by 2025.  Let’s see how MOOCs ignited changes in the higher education industry.

So, to summarise…

International education is already an important part of the Australian economy.  In fact, it is the third largest industry in Australia, with a $19 billion revenue in 2015.  A recent estimate by Deloitte Access Economics suggests that by 2025, 1 billion students world-wide will be seeking online education.  Australia’s universities have a strong global reputation and relevant capabilities, so this opportunity was recognised by then International Education Minister Richard Colbeck, and former Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who put together a strategy to grow the Australian online education industry by… 21,900 percent.  No, this is not a typo.

One way to capture international students is with a MOOC.  It’s a bit like a free sample you get of a product, which then gets you to continue to buy it:  you do a free short course, see if you like it, and if you do, you can enrol in a full subject, get credit, or even get a whole degree with the education provider.

MOOCs have their own shortcomings. Their completion rates have been tiny (around 5% at many subjects) and there are stories of plagiarism, which reduce confidence in the accreditation they provide.  Also, it seemed like a lot of MOOCs were not very innovative, and therefore not very attractive: they were just online versions of traditional content delivery, which not very inspiring or engaging.  Actually, some of the non-elite universities did a better job than the famous ones.  Those universities have had to attract students not with their reputation but with their practices, and because of that they developed great online delivery practices over the last two decades.

Even with these problems, and even after the initial enthusiasm had passed, MOOCs continue to grow.  In Australia, many top universities now offer them:  Australian National University , Monash University and the University of Queensland are only a few examples.  MOOCs cover all sorts of topics, not only academic ones: for example, a MOOC on death and dying (which is something relevant to all of us, really) is now on offer.  Because there are now so many MOOCs offered, on so many different platforms, a new service allows you to find a MOOC on your topic of interest in the pool of MOOCs worldwide.

The MOOC industry is inspiring change in the higher education industry.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the world’s top universities, now allows you to take half of its masters degree practically for free.  Coursera is connecting universities directly to industry, by providing MOOCs on topics of interest to companies, such as corporate financial analysis.  More changes are expected, as students become more sophisticated in their ways of cheating in MOOC assessments.

No doubt, if you have not heard of MOOCs before, you will be hearing a lot more of them now!


Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Categories of organisational change
  • Overcoming barriers to change
  • Stress
  • Innovation variables
  • Idea champions
  • Change agents


Consider the following questions for discussion…

Two main types of organisations mentioned in this post: universities and MOOC providers.  Which categories of change affecting each of them can you identify in this post?  Have a look at Figure 7.1

  1. Your textbook mentions a few causes of resistance to change 196-197.  Which ones do you expect to operate in each of the organisations mentioned? 
  2. The textbook also mentions techniques for overcoming resistance to change (pp. 197-198, and Table 7.1).  Which ones would you have employed in each organisation?
  3. How likely do you think the change in the organisation to result in employee stress?   Which of the techniques to reduce stress among staff suggested on pp. 200-201 would you think are the most appropriate?
  4. Which of the innovation variables presented in Figure 7.3 do you think are prominent in the organisations mentioned?  How would their presence (or absence) affect the change introduced by the rise of MOOCs?