All About MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses - Pros and Cons
It is well known that enrolling in Adult classes or courses can stimulate the brain can keep your mind nimble and active and can also sharpen the memory.
It is a huge financial and time commitment to enroll in a second degree or a short course. They can be expensive and they often have a face to face component that does not suit most busy people.
However, the recently developed Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by major universities and other education houses offer a wonderful alternative. These courses are:
► cheap or free, and so attract massive numbers
► very specific with no pre-requisites (like night class courses offered by Technical Institutions, but fully on line and on steroids).
► totally online, including assessment
► online tutorials and help assistants
► online social interaction with other students, if you want to do this
MOOCs can only be offered using software packages that are set and forget and that do everything online. Because the are free or cheap the hosting organisation cannot devote time, resources and money to supporting them. They are justified as bait for prospective future students who may taste the sample and decide to go for the main course. They are offered by many of the super-universities such as Stanford, Harvard, and MIT and many business corporations like Google. They have the reputation to attract people who have shied away from the local mickey-mouse night class courses about Japanese Flower arrangement.
Questions and Answers about MOOCs
Do MOOCS have a high dropout rate?
Probably yes, but not for the highly specific technical type courses. Who cares anyway? It does not matter much as neither the consumer not the provider have much to lose anyway. Most course have 'Why are you leaving surveys" which are very useful in providing feedback to the hosts. Many courses offer facilities for social contact with fellow students and this tends to overcome the isolation and loneliness aspects as well as self-help tutorials among like students with similar backgrounds and aspirations.
Does the Quality and Functionality of MOOCs Vary?
Like most things there is the Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Just Google it! Find someone who has completed the course and get their reaction. There are lots of fish in the sea, so shop around, do your homework before signing up. Many institutions offer similar courses.
How can MOOCs work without face to face contact and tutorials?
MOOCs are suited to self motivated, resourceful folk that are used to doing things for themselves and not being spoon fed and forced to study. It is not suited to everyone one. It is about in-depth learning of a discipline not about a list of facts that you could Google about anyway.
MOOCs are a rip-off designed to make professors and Host Institutions rich?
This may apply in some cases but mostly this is untrue. More and more university courses, even for enrolled students are virtually online. Higher enrollments and the need for flexibility has meant that face to face lectures and even tutorials are becoming dinosaurs of a bygone age. Many assessment are also done online. In many cases offering a MOOC is essentially a simple matter of refining an existing in-house online course. the professors aren't paid much for them and the benefits are more fame than fortune. The host institutions do make money from they but they are always struggling for funds and this provides as boost for their normal activities. Most courses are relatively inexpensive.
Can MOOCs demand huge time and effort commitments?
This is true, but for every struggling student there are 5 students that you can't beat away with a stick. They do much, much more than required and their emails and interaction lathers with perspiration. Most people who enroll genuinely want to learn.
Can anyone can teach or run a MOOC?
This is definitely not true and that is why most students go to the courses offered by the major universities. MOOC courses are very specialized versions of online lectures and tutorials developed over many years for in-house students, suing their feedback. These courses are not text books or Wiki's.
Will Online Learning Ruin Conventional University Courses?
The success of MOOCS, massive open online courses, recently has important consequences for the smaller universities which parallels what is happening to search on the internet. The larger institutions with the reputation and capacity to deliver online courses have the 'authority' to succeed. Why would a student want to enroll in a local course, online or otherwise, when they can 'go' to one of the mainstream Universities for the same fee?
Online courses are not new. Even students who do conventional courses do not have to attend a lecture 'in person'. They can view a replay or online version of the lecture anytime and anywhere.
Many Universities are moving to discourage live lectures as the lecturers have to do repeats to cater of large enrollments or several people have to deliver the same material. Smaller Universities rage bing marginalized by this. They cannot compete in terms of reputation, nor in the sophistication of the technology to deliver high quality material to huge numbers of students. The competitive advantage of the 'captive local audience' is being destroyed by this trend. Like on the internet, the big established sites get most of the traffic. The small Universities can only succeed by offering very specialised courses to small numbers of students that the big guys would not be bothered with.
Have you ever undertaken one of these MOOC courses?
© 2013 Dr. John Anderson