Adoption of MOOCs in the U.S. Higher Education: An Absorptive Capacity Perspective
56 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2015 Last revised: 31 Mar 2020
Date Written: Feburary 15, 2017
Advanced information technologies have enabled the development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which have the potential to transform higher education. Why are some schools able to more easily embrace this technology-based model of teaching, while others remain reluctant to jump aboard? Applying the theory of absorptive capacity (ACAP), we examine the role of a school’s educational IT in becoming a MOOC producer. Using a unique longitudinal dataset that combines the complete history of MOOC adoption by US colleges and universities, and their use of educational IT, we find that prior educational IT capabilities such as 1) the use of Web 2.0, social media and other interactive tools for teaching, and 2) the school’s experience with distance education and hybrid teaching are positively associated with MOOC adoption. Consistent with the theory of ACAP, we also find that the effect of educational IT capabilities on MOOC adoption is moderated by social integration mechanisms and activation triggers. For example, when the provision of educational IT supporting services are highly decentralized, educational IT capabilities have a greater impact on the probability of a school adopting a MOOC. In addition, schools facing a turbulent environment, such as those experience a decline in college applications, are more likely to leverage their IT capabilities to adopt MOOCs in order to create a competitive edge. We discuss the implications for research and practice.
Keywords: MOOC, online education, absorptive capacity, educational IT, IT governance
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