To MOOC or not to MOOC?

With the current hype about MOOCs, Go Zambia Jobs sets out to explore:

  1. What is meant by the term MOOC
  2. How MOOCs can help students and those wanting to learn
  3. Whether MOOCs will replace traditional colleges/universities

1. What is meant by the term MOOC?

MOOC is an acronym for Massive, Open, Online CourseSo what does this actually mean?

  • Massive = lots of students
  • Open = no entry requirements
  • Online = students access courses, materials and exams via the internet
  • Course = a period of study

We should point out that when we say massive we really do mean MASSIVE. Leading MOOCs provides such as Coursera, EdX, Udacity and FutureLearn have 100,000s of students enrolled and 1,000,000s who access course materials without being formally enrolled. Compare that with traditional colleges and universities which may just have 10,000 students and you see that MOOCs really are MASSIVE.

2. How MOOCs can help students and those wanting to learn?

MOOCs are able to provide learners who have access to the internet with high-quality educational courses. Whereas in the past courses may only have been available to a small, rich, educated minority, MOOCs enable courses to be shared quickly and easily with everyone. Learners can take courses lasting many months or short courses lasting just a few minutes. Learners can switch courses depending on what interests them without financial penalty. MOOCs are flexible and enable a collaborative learning environment that goes beyond political and geographic borders.

3. Will MOOCs replace traditional colleges/universities?

The surge in technological advancement in the 21st century has allowed MOOCs to reach an unprecented audience. Millions of learners enjoying a collaborative, free learning experience – it sounds too good to be true. However, critics of MOOCs point to the low-levels of tutor support, as well as exam and certification problems. They also suggest that  MOOCs are really just distance education courses (such as those provided by ZAOU or Unisa) in shiny new packaging.

Is there any truth in these critiques of MOOCs? Is 3 years at university to receive a degree appropriate in the 21st century? Would learners be better off in employment learning what they need to know when they need to know it?

Discussion

So what are you views on MOOCs? Have you enrolled on a MOOC or would you like to in the future? Enter the debate below and share your views.

Further Information

To find more of the latest educational articles visit: Learning

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