A "MOOC" IS
What is a MOOC?
A Mooc is an online university short course aimed at making higher education more accessible to more people. Instead of physically attending lectures and seminars or hitting the library, you complete the course usually over a set number of weeks using university materials and resources posted online.
Moocs are open to anyone in the world via the internet, usually free of charge and often they don’t have any entry requirements. Interaction with your fellow students is usually key, with online forums and discussion boards forming an important part of the learning process.
1. Are free. Right now, most MOOCs are free or nearly free, a definite plus for the student. (This is likely to change as universities look for ways to defray the high cost of creating MOOCs.)
2. Provide a solution to overcrowding. According to Heller, 85% of California's community colleges have course waiting lists. (A bill in the California senate seeks to require the state’s public colleges to give credit for approved online courses.)
3. Force professors to improve lectures. Because the best MOOCs are short, usually an hour at the most, addressing a single topic, professors are forced to examine every bit of material as well as their teaching methods.
4. Create a dynamic archive. Actors, musicians, and stand-up comedians record their best performances for broadcast and posterity; why shouldn't college teachers do the same?
5. Are designed to ensure that students keep up. MOOCs are real college courses, complete with tests and grades. They are filled with multiple choice questions and discussions that test comprehension.
6. Bring people together from all over the world.
7. Allow teachers to make the most of classroom time in blended classes. In what is called a "flipped classroom," teachers send students home with assignments to listen to or watch a recorded lecture, or read it, and return to the classroom for more valuable discussion time or other interactive learning.
1. Make discussion a challenge. It’s impossible to facilitate meaningful conversation in a classroom with 150,000 students. There are electronic alternatives: message boards, forums, chat rooms, etc., but the intimacy of face-to-face communication is lost, emotions often misunderstood.
2. Make it easier for students to drop out. Heller reports that when MOOCs are strictly online, not a blended experience with some classroom time, "dropout rates are typically more than 90%."
3. Miss the magic. Some believe the "college experience" comes from sitting in preferably small groups having genuine human interactions.
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Udacity, a MOOC company with millions of students, is working on a high-profile project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, with backing and input from AT&T, to develop a $7,000 master’s degree in computer science.
Nineteen colleges now work with Coursera to offer what amount to microdegrees—it calls them Course Specializations—that require students to take a series of short MOOCs and then finish a hands-on capstone project.
Companies are teaming up with universities to create MOOC "pathways". Companies decide which classes are most important to their field. When a student completes the sequence of courses, they are hired by the company.