Friday, June 15, 2012

MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses

I'm very curious about MOOCs (massive open online courses,) and not just because their acronym still cracks me up. MOOCs allow Internet users to study a subject asynchronously (like an independent study) through lectures, exercises and, the sites tout, a community of learners. Websites offering these courses are growing, as are their course lists. There have been countless articles written about MOOCs' merits, possibilities and relationships to costly, for-credit programs. Just this morning, Inside Higher Ed explored how for-credit, Prior Learning assessment courses might rely on non-credit MOOCs.

Have you ever taken one of these courses? I'm hoping to try one when (if?) my schedule opens up a bit. Here are a few of the programs getting the most hype since they are connected to prestigious universities:

Coursera (Princeton, Stanford, Michigan and Penn)

edX (MIT, Harvard)

OLI (Carnegie Mellon)

As an online instructor, I'd like to learn more about these courses. As an author writing a book about how to be an online student, I'm interested in seeing what kinds of technology these courses use and what the interactive expectations, if any, there are/can be.

I am often asked if I think these courses will put the accredited universities out of business. My answer is always, "no." There have always been books, videos, podcasts and other resources available for students to study, more or less, independently. I remember a professor in graduate school saying that you can learn everything you need to know from books and independent research, but it is more efficient to go through a recognized program with dedicated instructors and a community of learners dedicated to the same subject. I agree.

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