MOOCs are Massively Online Open Courses. It is a form of online education that is taking the scholars and the internet by storm. MOOCs follow the model of “distance learning,” first adopted by the University of Phoenix in 1989 (Rushkoff, 2013, p. 1). The reason these online courses are becoming so popular is due to their ease of access and, in most situations, a much cheaper alternative. MOOCs have been known to be much cheaper than average college tuition and in some instances is even free. However, while people taking MOOCs may not receive college credits for the courses, participants can still receive certificates confirming that they understand the information presented in the course. Several colleges are also coming around to the idea of MOOCs, offering courses taught by graduate professors from the University of Irvine, Washington, Virgina, John Hopkins and Vanderbilt (Kolowich, 2013, p. 1). The reason more Universities are accepting MOOCs into their curriculum is that they are another way to generate revenue. MOOCs can be viewed as both good and bad. On one hand, the education is reaching places and people that regular university education just could not extend to. On the other hand, some people view the education as less valuable, and sorely lacking human interaction necessary for adequate learning. One of the more positive aspects of MOOCs is that, as someone in class today pointed out, you can learn at a pace more comfortable to yourself vs the forced pace of university curriculums. A great example of this is presented by Time reporter Harry McCracken. McCracken, in researching for his report on MOOCs, took an online course in gamification, and decided that the video lectures of the professor lecturing were too slow for him (McCracken, 2012, p. 1). So, understanding that he could still learn and retain the information presented if it was presented faster, was able to increase the playback speed of the video by 1.5x, a speed more comfortable and efficient to him.
Do I believe that online education can replace college as a form of higher learning? Partially, yes, but not entirely. I personally believe that for more broad, introductory courses containing general information online alternatives would be more effective. Large lecture center classes tend to be the classes that, in my personal experience, you end up retaining the least knowledge. I learn better in smaller environments, where the student-teacher interaction is much more intimate and hands on. I think a good balance would be for general education and exploring to be done via online classes, and than once you’ve found the study that you are passionate about you could THEN proceed to take smaller, more classical college classes for further advancement.
Kolowich, S. (2013, May 1). Coursera Eyes Teacher Training With New MOOC Partners – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education. Chronicle. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/coursera-eyes-teacher-training-with-new-mooc-partners/43679
McCracken, H. (2012, October 11). MOOC Brigade: Free Online Classes, Speeded Up a Notch. Time. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from http://nation.time.com/2012/10/11/mooc-brigade-free-online-classes-speeded-up-a-notch/
Rushkoff, D. (1013, January 15). Online courses need human element to educate. CNN. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/15/opinion/rushkoff-moocs/