Questioning the False Promises of the Online Education Industry: A New Video Released by the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education

College and University Faculty and Educational Staff Challenge CEOs of Coursera, EdX and Udacity to a Public Debate on Concerns Raised in Animated Video; First Public Screening of Video Will Be at National Gathering in Albany on May 16-17

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education released a new animated video on its web site today raising serious concerns about the claims and promises being made by the online education industry about the quality of its higher education programs.

The video, “Online Education: Teaching Millions or Making Millions?” is part of a national grassroots campaign to inform families, educators, higher education leaders, and policymakers about the very serious concerns of faculty members and educational staff who are on the front lines of higher education.

The CFHE has challenged Coursera Co-Founder Daphne Koller, EdX President Anant Agarwal and Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun to watch the video and participate in a public debate on the issues raised in the video. The video will be unveiled formally at a CFHE meeting with other groups concerned about higher education in Albany, New York on May 16-17.

“Faculty and staff members have developed and implemented quality online learning tools for many years and we appreciate the value of these tools,” said Susan Meisenhelder, a CFHE spokesperson who participated in preparing three CFHE reports on MOOCs and online edu-businesses.

“But the gold rush to integrate online education products into higher education curricula without sufficient analysis of what works for students and what doesn’t is very troubling to say the least,” Meisenhelder added.

The rush to use these tools is driven not by the needs of students, but by the needs of investors in companies looking for profits.

“The CFHE video depicts the findings in our reports—online education is a billion dollar business motivated more by profits than quality education for students,” said Meisenhelder. “The facts about online higher education must be exposed so that higher education institutions can make good choices about course offerings and so that families and students can ensure they are on the right path for a successful future.”

The three reports by the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE) that are the basis for the new video highlight strong evidence that widely publicized claims about the effectiveness of the online education industry’s products do not hold up.

The papers focus on how these products affect access for students to a higher education; the actual costs generated to students as well as to a university or college; and the profits involved that appear to affect how the tools are used and evaluated.

The “Millions” video argues that the “promises” of online education companies are not new: the promise that online learning will dramatically expand access to higher education is the very same promise Americans were made prior to the housing crisis. Americans were told that lower income buyers could gain middle class “access” to home ownership through “products” that were ultimately catastrophic for the buyers, while profitable for certain sellers. The results of the failure to look behind the rhetoric were disastrous for the nation and for the lives of ordinary people.

To view the video, please go to the CFHE web site at

To read the reports on which the video is based, please go to

An overview of the series and executive summaries of the three reports are also available on this blog:

Overview of the Series:

Executive Summary of the First Report:

Executive Summary of the Second Report:

Executive Summary of the Third Report:

To arrange interviews with faculty members, educational staff and other Higher Ed supporters regarding the video, please contact Lisa Cohen 310-395-2544 (national), Niesha Gates 916-281-8785 (California), Fran Clark 914-364-8925 (New York) or Mike Lisi 518-944-9528 (New York)

Twitter hashtag: #MakingMillions

About The Campaign For the Future of Higher Education: CFHE is composed of dozens of higher education faculty and staff organizations across the nation. It was launched in 2011 to guarantee that affordable, quality higher education is accessible to all sectors of society and that the voices of the faculty, staff, students and communities—not just the voices of administrators, politicians, foundations and think tanks—are included in the process of making change. The campaign seeks to ensure that the emphasis, curriculum, pricing, and structure of our nation’s higher education systems are good for our students and the quality of education they receive.


5 thoughts on “Questioning the False Promises of the Online Education Industry: A New Video Released by the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education

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