What is a MOOC? Easy access to quality education is the underpinning for a developed and healthy global society. While the idea is extremely noble, there are large parts of the world struggling to keep up with such provisions. For many, even in developed countries, affording high standard of education is a dream that is quite mercilessly walked over.
For over a century, the traditional university and classroom system has reigned over the concept of regulated and credentialed education. While it is still absolutely still championing the cause, there has been a somewhat disruptive innovation that has taken the world by storm – the Massive Online Open Courses or MOOC.
MOOCs came up as an idea somewhere around 2006 and back in 2012, it started to become a widespread phenomenon with Coursera and Udacity, pioneered by Stanford professors, and edX, led by MIT and Harvard. Suddenly people, anywhere in the world, had access to real courses created by real experts, delivered in a course fashion, only online.
Over the years, these open course platforms have become quite popular. While some of the courses are for-profit and monetized, for a rather insignificant sum as compared to traditional degrees, quite a few are also available free, either as a whole or in an audit format. Since their conception, platforms like edX with over 2000 courses and 14 million users, and Coursera, with over 2000 courses, over 180 specializations and even a few Masters Degrees plus over 25 million users, have become synonymous with independent resources of knowledge for many.
However, with its relative youthful stage of existence, it is natural to question a few very important points about MOOC – Are online courses / MOOCs, including those from the top universities worth it? Will their certifications hold value for their recipients? And the most crucial, How do recruiters view these MOOC certifications as compared to traditional degrees?
Before we dive head on, let us understand what are the challenges that MOOCs face. We will end the discussion, in this article, with some of the measures that can make MOOCs more marketable and reliable to recruiters. We have based our discussion on several researches that have been cited along the way.
According to several research studies, mentioned in a review done by University of Aegean and University of Catalonia, here are some of the major challenges for MOOC providers.
Though there are many ways in which MOOCs are addressing their various concerns, the only real metric to measure a MOOC courses’ value is in its perception within the community of recruiters.
A thesis research at Indiana University of Pennsylvania examined hiring managerperceptions of MOOCs. For the study, the researcher surveyed over 200 individuals consisting of employers, recruiters, and HR executives, in the current job market. The study conclusions, on par with other previous research work on many levels, had some resonance amidst the two research questions posed. A simplified version of the questions were – What kind of attitude do hiring managers have towards MOOCs as postsecondary education? Does a previous MOOC exposure alter hiring manager’s perceptions?
Here are some key takeaways, among others, within the current researchers in the field, studying MOOC impact.
Having raised the concerns and explored the recruitment near-future of MOOC credentials, let us move on to what make MOOCs so popular. And what would make a MOOC course beneficial for you.
MOOCs are a huge resource of education data that can be analysed to further improve the learning environment, online and beyond. MOOC users and their learning behaviour can be used for improvements. Incorporating artificial intelligence methods, data analysis, and other agents, MOOCs can strive to improve the design, delivery, and assessment experience of the courses. Such software tools can also be employed to enhance user identity verification and attempt to eliminate incidence of cheating and fraud. Thus making MOOCs all the more credible.
So, what do we conclude. Should you or should you not consider online courses and MOOCs as reliable learning environments?
The answer simple, at least at this juncture of technological progress – MOOC still has to cover some reliability and sustenance tests, against the century some years old university degree and credentialing structure. This will probably come with more years of sustained output and more MOOC learners joining the job market.
However, as is the present situation, MOOCs are a very reliable resource for degree-holders to enhance their skills to meet the labour market expectations and improve their chances of career growth within an organization.
Here are some useful relevant links.