“What are MOOCs?”
One of my classmates asked me that question the other day. I was a bit shocked to find that some college students are unaware of one of the hottest topics in today’s education and technology environment. I explained that MOOC stands for massive open online course, which is a course offered for free over the Internet to hundreds or thousands of students who want to explore certain subjects without receiving credit (at least for now). My friend was amazed by the opportunity to take free courses and didn’t seem put off by the caveat “without receiving credit.”
MOOCs have been introduced as the newest form of online learning and are seen as the next step for getting a creditable education online. Although higher education administrators and faculty hold mixed views on the subject, many people, including my classmates, seem excited about this new opportunity and its potential to transform education.
After discussing the future of web-based learning with my peers, I’ve found students at the college and postgraduate levels have varying opinions about the topic. While many of my friends have embraced online learning during their academic careers, several friends have gone as far as taking online courses as part of their core curriculums. They have provided a lot of insight into their experiences and their personal critiques of the entire online education model.
A co-worker of mine recently took an online course in a core subject required for her master’s degree. While she appreciated the fact that she could complete her coursework from the comfort of her own home at a time that was convenient, she still had some major issues with the way the course was taught. Her main criticism was that the professor “recreated the classroom experience” exactly as it would have been in person. My co-worker believes that many students turn to online classes for a new and different experience, not a virtualized version of the classroom model.
Until colleges and professors invest time in making the online experience unique and engaging, they will lag behind the innovative startups that are pushing MOOCs to the forefront of higher education. For students enrolled at traditional colleges, online learning just isn’t very exciting right now.
Join us on April 16, 2013 for a webinar focusing on outside-the-box thinking and innovative technologies that drive colleges’ successful distance learning programs. Learn more and register here.