The full-form of MOOC is Massive open online course. It started as an idea in 2006 and has developed into full-blown learning sources, for many, since 2012. A phenomenon that has become more widespread than Starbucks and its worldwide reach, MOOC has captured the focused attention of 81 million students, more than 800 participating universities, and has close to ten thousand credible courses in the internet universe. There are over 9000 MOOC courses floating about with a handful enjoying the celebrity stardom. Many of these MOOCs also provide credentials like online degrees, professional certificates, and more.
While an online degree is one of the advantages of the MOOCosphere, that is not all that it is good for. MIT has studied the learning effectiveness in MOOC based study vs on-campus classes. According to the study, unless students experience an interactive learning method in a classroom, university students actually learn less than MOOC students. When combined with traditional teaching, in a blended fashion, there is a higher probability to success as compared to otherwise. This has been witnessed in university courses like that of San Jose State University’s Computer Science intro course. Ever since they switched to a blended program with edX’s MOOC, their student failure rates have decreased.
Of course, it helps that an online credit can often be transferred into university credits, that the MOOC courses are almost always cheaper than traditional university courses, and that the self-paced on-demand nature make MOOCs a dependable choice in this technologically reliant age. It also provides a reasonable means of testing the waters with the course material, often with a chance of full refund upon opting out of the courses. In other words, dropping out of MOOC courses is simpler and this provides students choices without the cost of a financial, and time, investment in a course they may not find useful, later.
Beyond the glitter of online credentials, the vast resource of courses allows any curious George to log in and learn. This is a liberating change of education structure, beyond the rigidity of classroom enrollments, timelines, and curriculum. Some of these MOOCs are even dynamic enough to receive feedbacks and improve its material.
MOOCs also form a huge source of data for education researchers. Unlike the limitations of veiled offline school activities of students, MOOC student activities are transparent and reflect study patterns, course effectiveness, and student response. All of these can serve as a starting point for analyzing what needs improvements and how the various experimentations can translate into learning.
Many of these courses may not be recognized as credentials by universities or recruiters. The fact that the courses are not interactive, like in a classroom, or that students don’t always get the opportunity to receive one-on-one help from instructors, makes them less appealing to the traditional knowledge seekers.
There is also a tremendous drop-out rate that plagues these MOOC courses. Ranging in the low single digits, the completion rates indicate a lack of loyalty, and discipline, warranted in a self-regulated teaching style.
Traditionalists also fear that MOOCs tend to devalue the merit of traditional education. If the material is available freely, credentialing may become worthless. Piracy concerns have also often scarred the image of MOOCs.
Among the many MOOC course providers, since their dawn in 2010/12, Coursera, edX, and Udemy are the A-listers. The table below shows the main features and differences between the three MOOCs.
Founded in 2010 by Eren Bali, OktayCaglar and GaganBiyani in Silicon Valley, Udemy (Academy of You) is different from the usual MOOCs. It doesn’t impart courses in collaboration with universities or colleges. Rather, it began by building its reputation through some seed content on its blogs, followed by invited lectures and classes by expert instructors, to the current business model. This business model relies on people with some expertise,to create a coursethat could be about iPhone use to Computer Programming, for profit. The courses are rated by the users which helps determine their credibility. Instructors are paid based on the popularity of the courses and for the same reason, courses may be free or paid, based on the quality of the instruction as determined by its users.
So, clearly, Udemy is for the people and by the people. Perhaps for that reason, Udemy doesn’t impart any courses with credentials – certifications or degrees that could be recognized by universities. However, it is an extremely useful channel to gain skills based on your demand. Businesses often use Udemy for Corporate Training on a large scale.
Some of its features are listed below:
edX was founded in 2012 by MIT & Harvard University, each having contributed $30 million to kick startthe project. Unlike its peers, edX offers university level courses as a non-profit education project on an open-source platform that is freely available. The courses are channeled by some of the world’s leading universities. The classes (online) are interactive in nature, with the opportunity for students to practice their understanding. Each course has teaching assistants, students are able to discuss the course on forums, pose questions and interact with their fellow students or the teaching assistants.
edX relies on supportive contribution to maintain the non-profit education project and continue its research in learning. While you can enroll for a class just for the learning, edX provides an edX Verified Certificate for those who desire a proof of their course completion, for jobs, schools, etc. There is a reasonable minimum fee, however, most edXfunds are sourced from the above-mentioned contributions. Financial assistance, class creation, and other improvements are all drawn from those funds.
Besides the possibility of gaining credits that may be applicable in other universities (university discretion applies), there are many certificate programs.
Here are some of the crucial edX features:
|UC Berkeley||University of Texas||Australian National Univ||Hong Kong Polytechnic|
|RWTH Aachen||Sorbonne Univ||Univ of British Columbia||Caltech|
|McGill Univ||Kyoto Univ||TechnischeUnivMunchen||Univ of Oxford|
|IIM Bangalore||UnivAutonoma de Madrid||Inter-American Development Bank||Educational Testing Service (ETS)|
Founded in 2012 by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and DahpneKoller, it is the most popular MOOC around the world. Lasting of the order of ten weeks, the courses are designed by top university professors, and their teams. They have assignments, quizzes, and even final capstone projects, or exams in lieu of traditional university classes. Since 2014, Coursera integrated self-paced courses,with no deadlines, to counteract the traditional structures. However, to keep up with an active discussion forum and peer grading, the structure later shifted to soft-deadlines. Each Coursera session now runs almost every month, thereby allowing students the flexibility of shifting to the next session in case of interruptions. In the end, every completed course leads to a completion certificate that is directly shareable on other platforms, such as LinkedIn.
Coursera doesn’t just limit itself to courses, but has expanded into whole areas or fields of training. Here are the various Coursera learning options.
Here are some other relevant Coursera features.
|Stanford||National Univ of Singapore||Northwestern Univ||Indian School of Business|
|Caltech||Univ of Tokyo||Erasmus Rotterdam|
|Univ of Michigan||Univ of Illinois Urbana Champaign||Univ of Toronto||Univ of Amsterdam|
|Berklee College of Music||Univ of Chicago||Macquarie Univ||Univ of Leeds|
So, you have options, and options within those options. Explore your fit, find a new skill, and enjoy the bounties of the digital world.