by Iber Poma

Technologists have a predilection to use acronyms for everything in the Computer World and the acronym MOOC is not the exception. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. It is an online course intended for extensive participation and open access via the Internet. Above all, these courses are free to enroll. MOOCs are a recent development in the area of distance education.
Although the design of and participation in a MOOC may be similar to online college or university courses, MOOCs typically do not award credits to students enrolled at colleges. However, assessment of learning may be done for certification.

A number of MOOC projects have emerged independently, such as Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/), Udacity (http://www.udacity.com/), and edX (https://www.edx.org/). The reputation of the creators, backing institutions, and of course financial support of these MOOCS has helped all MOOCs gain significant public attention in 2012.

Classes are designed to help you master the material. When you take MOOC classes, you will watch lectures taught by renowned professors, learn at your own pace, test your knowledge, and reinforce concepts through interactive exercises. You will also connect with a worldwide community of thousands of students learning together with you.

Available topics include the Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, Computer Science, and many others. Whether you’re looking to improve your resume, advance your career, or just learn more and expand your knowledge, you can find courses that will be of interest.

Two key features seem predominant in all MOOC courses:

  • Open access. MOOC participants do not need to be a registered student in a school to “take” a MOOC, and are not required to pay a fee. Anyone in the world can enroll in a course.
  • Scalability. Many traditional courses depend upon a small ratio of students to teacher, but the “massive” in MOOC suggests that the course is designed to support an indefinite number of participants.

There are many benefits as as well challenges when we use MOOCs as a source for knowledge development.
Here are some benefits:

  • Learning can occur anywhere rather than solely in a classroom setting.
  • All work, thoughts and instruction can be shared, critiqued and viewed by all participants.
  • All that is needed to participate is an internet connection.
  • Students are often afforded a wide variety of assignments to choose from (In contrast with contemporary education systems which require all students to submit the same assignment at the same time.
  • MOOCs are free for all who are interested.
  • Participants do not have to be enrolled in the institution The course is available all the time. Student can choose when to “take” the course.
  • Networking.

 

These are the challenges:

  • The need for basic digital literacy.
  • The students’ need for self-regulation of learning.
  • The potential for minor interaction with the course.
  • The lack of in-person, real world socializing, presenting and practical experience.
  • The increased likelihood of academic dishonesty, particularly with online examinations, due to a lack of regulation and supervision.
  • Technical difficulties associated with the complete reliance on computers and internet connectivity.
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