MOOC. It’s a big buzzword right now. Yes, it sounds slightly similar to the noise that cows make (MOO!!!) In reality, a “MOOC” is a Massive Open Online Course. By the end of 2016, nearly 60 million people had taken a course of this type. Popular platforms include edX, Coursera, Udacity, Alison, Udemy, and Future Learn. MyLeanMBA is an example of an up-and-coming provider of a flexible & affordable business administration MOOC. In the following paragraphs, you’ll learn the answer to the question “What exactly is a MOOC?”
M = Massive: In the early stages of the MOOC revolution, this meant that participation was unlimited. A single course could have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of participants. Maybe even 1 million (though that hasn’t happened yet). As the MOOC trend evolves, we are seeing that while some providers have stuck to this “massive” concept, other providers have begun limiting the number of students that can join each course.
This has occurred due to a multitude of reasons: providers cannot deal with such a large number of users; the providers want to increase student interaction and networking; the students themselves seem to value greater customer support and in-class participation; much more.
O = Open: Open participation seems self explanatory, but it is really? For some people, open means that anyone can join, for others it means the course is free. And for some people, it even means that the content is open source or open license. Because of this, not all MOOCs are the same.
Some are free, many are paid. Some have no required pre-requisites, while some require you to submit essays and proof of a degree or credits acquired. With so many MOOCs available these days, the “MOOC” definition is no longer a one-fit-all. Depending on the provider and the course itself, the requirements will vary drastically. Moreover, with some MOOCs being used for college credits, more and more MOOCs require some form of a pre-requisite.
O = Online: The second O in MOOC stands for Online. Everyone goes into a MOOC understanding that the content will be transmitted online, but “online” doesn’t go far enough. Where online is the content available? Through what forms of media – YouTube videos, text, images, graphics, live feeds from professors? Is the content available offline or can it be downloaded?
Although “online” seems simple enough to grasp, each MOOC is comprised of different content, in different ways. While many courses are video based (edX, Udemy), it is not true of all MOOC providers or all courses. Maybe it’s easier to learn about history in a video, but programming is best expressed in text. Each student should choose the format that best fits their needs.
C = Course: When we delve into the final aspect of MOOCs, it is almost the most undefined. When you take a college course, you generally know what you’re going to get. You will sit in front of your professor, do a few assignments, and take one or several exams. With MOOCs, it’s not remotely the same.
Your MOOC might be self-paced, meaning that you can do all the lessons and assignments on your own time. Or maybe you’ll have weekly deadlines, a group project you need to work on with other online students, required case studies, a final exam. Maybe you’ll have none of that. The length of your course could range from a few weeks to over a year! There is also the issue of the final certificate (if any) received, credits earned, accreditation, etc.
One of the main benefits of MOOCs is exactly that they are all so different. Students can pick and choose whichever course work best for their unique needs. MOOCs have revolutionized the education industry, bringing before out-of-reach knowledge to people across the world – rural communities, impoverished people, developing countries, people with learning disabilities, dreamers, goal-chasers, lifelong learners. MOOCs have changed the future of learning.