It’s true that college costs keep rising with no end in sight. From textbooks and supplies to courses and certification exams, college students, and their parents, are definitely feeling the burn. But, there’s a new education innovation that is gaining popularity around the U.S.: Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are just that — massive, open, online courses that allow students to watch/listen to lectures online, participate in online group discussions and stay current with reading assigned materials and taking quizzes and exams online. So, what’s in it for you? Read on for the latest in education news.
What’s all the hype about?
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I don’t learn the way other students learn, “ or “I need to be able to push myself to want to learn more about this particular topic,” or “I wish I had more time to take the courses I’m really interested in,” then a MOOC may just be what you’re looking for. Educause discusses MOOCs in their entirety in a June 11, 2013, post: “7 Things You Should Know About MOOCs II (PDF).”
- How do MOOCs work? While most online courses have similar offerings (i.e., video lectures, group discussion boards, online quizzes, etc.), MOOCs “can be augmented by local meet-ups among students who live near one another.” MOOCs are conducted by several organizations, for-profit and not, who decide the duration of the course and the material presented. Some MOOCs might have a fee that is dependent on whether credit is given at the end.
- Who’s doing it? Top universities such as NYU, the University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon are offering some MOOCs. However, check with your local community colleges as some are beginning to offer courses similar in nature, but that don’t give credit when completed. Age range, according to Coursera, an online community offering free MOOC, ranges from 16-88.
- What is it significant? MOOCs completely alter the way information is discussed and distributed across the globe. Education, aka knowledge, should be accessible to everyone who wants to learn, not just for those who can afford it.
- Where is it going? As with all technological trends, there is no end-result. Education will forever evolve. MOOCs are no exception: partners and organizations keep joining in and courses are being translated into even more languages at no cost. The future is very bright.
Are there any downsides to learning with MOOCs?
In a March 4, 2012, post in The New York Times, “Instruction for Masses Knocks Down Campus Walls,” author Tamar Lewin discusses the difficulty universities face when considering whether to give credit to a student who has completed the MOOC.
“’We’re considering this still completely experimental, and we’re trying to figure out the right way to go down this road,’ said John Etchemendy, the Stanford provost. ‘Our business is education, and I’m all in favor of supporting anything that can help educate more people around the world. But there are issues to consider, from copyright questions to what it might mean for our accreditation if we provide some official credential for these courses, branded as Stanford.’”
Still need more information?
Check out what the rest of the U.S. is saying about MOOCs: Log onto Twitter and search #MOOC in the #Discover toolbar. You can instantly connect with others around the U.S. — and around the world — who have taken, facilitated or who just want to know more about MOOCs.
So tell us, have you taken a MOOC? How did you like it? Would you take another or suggest it to a friend? Leave us your thoughts below.