What are MOOCs and why you should care

Posted by: admin at February 5th, 2013

What are MOOCs?

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This is an acronym that stands for massive open online courses (MOOCs), which are nothing less than a phenomenon in online education today, since they provide free online learning and education opportunity to thousands of students at a time. Think of it as an University. No better yet an University class, with all its perks – seasoned, experienced and talented professors and a peer collective that share your own passion and enthusiasm for the subject at hand, from which you can learn and share experiences. However, instead of class of say 20 students, MOOcs allow you to join classes consisting of thousands of students.

Typically, MOOCS consist of both written and interactive video content of lectures, textbooks and quizzes which assess the knowledge you apprehend. Feedback is electronic, in interaction with other peers is made through discussion boards like forums.

What are the Pros and Cons?

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But what are the benefits with respect to traditional higher education. First of all – cost. A year tuition can go up to the five figure range which is simply preposterous and limiting a lot of people’s options and perspectives. We live an in world and age where information is so readily available and easy to find that charging this much for education is simply absurd. This marks the age of self-education.

Alas, credentials from Univesities are still important, and yet online courses and online universities are still far off from gaining a reputation that allows you to confidently boast your skills or seek a job opportunity. What you can do with a MOOCs however is test the water perfectly. So, say you’re interested in studying Mechanical Engineering for instance thought you only have hints and clues what the profession and courses for that matter look like.

Since a MOOCs is structured and behaves just like a regular uni course, this makes for a great opportunity to assess what the courses in real life, traditional university will be like. If you find that it’s not to your liking, then you just need to move on. It’s a lot better than having to lose a great deal of money and time in one or two years of college before finding out you’re not fit for that kind of subject of interest.

moocA major concern with MOOCs which sadly has affected its credibility is the high drop-out rate of the students. For instance, out of let’s say 155,000 students who signed up for an MIT course on electronic circuits this year, only 7,000 – 5% – actually passes and finished the course. Of course, the internet is riddled with folks who sign up for all kinds of thing. MOOCs isn’t something that should be taken up little. The courses there aren’t simple quizzes or surveys, but genuine next-best thing educational courses where you actually need to invest a lot of time and energy in order to complete it.

A major disadvantage, one I believe will soon turn for the better, is the fact that most of the time the credit you receive over a MOOC course is non transferable.

Where can I enroll in a MOOC course?

Here are the main providers of such services. Again, all are free!

Coursera

 

  • Offers 197 courses in 18 subjects including computer science, math, business, humanities, social science, medicine, engineering and education. [iii]
  • Some instructors offer signed certificates of completion but not from the university.

Udacity

 

  • Offers 18 courses focused on computer science, mathematics, physics and business. [iv]
  • Certificates are awarded according to academic performance (completion, distinction, high distinction, higher distinction).
  • A free job-matching program sends resumes to partner companies including Google, Bank of America, Twitter and Facebook (based on job openings and student analytics).

edX

 

  • Offers eight courses in chemistry, computer science, electronics and public health. [v]
  • Two certificates are available, which both bear the edX and campus name (MITx, Harvardx, BerkeleyX or UTAustinX).

 

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