MOOCs have been the talk of the learning and development industry for quite some time. But, what exactly are they?
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are online courses that allow participants free access and unrestricted participation to any course of their choice. Besides the conventional modes of teaching such as lectures, videos and reading material; MOOCs also provide a platform for interactive forums.
MOOCs are further divided into two categories – cMOOCs and xMOOCs.
MOOCs were first started in 2008, created by George Siemens and Stephen Downs, and was called “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge/2008” or CCK08. It was created as a credit course for the University of Manitoba. CCK08 had 25 students who had paid fees for the course and around 2200 learners who took the course for free.
MOOCs really took off in 2012, when Professors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig of Stanford University offered the online course called “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”. This course had approximately 1,600,000 students participating from 190 countries. After the success of Intro to Artificial Intelligence, Thrun and Nrovig started Udacity, a business model for online knowledge sharing. There are also a few other MOOCs providers, include Coursera and EdX.
1. Courses are offered for free
2. Access to courses offered by professors at the top schools
3. Courses are available to a vast and diverse audience across the globe
4. Learners’ performance can be monitored easily using the data captured during the start of courses
5. Both professors and learners get world-wide exposure, thus improving pedagogical techniques and knowledge sharing
6. Can be used as a tool in a blended learning program, where students can access more information than what is provided in the class
1. Can’t provide for personalized courseware and attention from a tutor
2. It is difficult to keep track of students’ assignments and involvement
3. Learners with disabilities and a poor Internet connection can’t use MOOCs
4. Language can be a barrier while offering MOOCs
5. MOOCs can’t be used as a credit-earning course at universities
Though there are a few drawbacks, MOOCs have a lot of potential for reinventing the way we learn. It will be interesting to see how they progress and grow over time!