What is a MOOC?
MOOCs are web-based distance learning programs that are designed to be accessible for large numbers of geographically dispersed students.
MOOC stands for “Massive Open Online Course”:
- Massive: because enrolments can run into hundreds of thousands
- Open: because admission is open to anyone
- Online: because the courses are delivered via the internet
- Course: because their goal is to teach a specific subject
How do MOOCs work?
MOOCs consist of traditional class materials that are made accessible online, and may include the following:
- Filmed or recorded video lectures
- Problem sets
- Online quizzes and examinations
- Interactive learning modules
- Interaction with other students via forums
Where can you take MOOCs?
MOOCs are created by universities, but instead of distributing it themselves, they rely on course providers such as Coursera, edX, FutureLearn, and Udacity.
What are the benefits of MOOCs?
1. No dependence on physical location
This can save diminish a student’s time spent on commuting and improve efforts on collaboration. In the current world scenario, online education also enables social distancing.
2. Access to higher education
Students and learners in developing countries obtain improved access to high-quality education which can ultimately increase quality of life, and contribute to efforts of creating a sustainable, high-quality, and accessible learning infrastructure.
3. Affordability of higher education
The scalability of MOOCs makes the courses more cost-effective.
4. Flexible learning schedule
MOOCs are most commonly self-paced, and can accommodate student work schedules. Even if course completion is not self-paced, as with online degree programs, prerecorded lectures can offer more flexibility on a daily and weekly basis.
What are the drawbacks of MOOCs?
Though MOOCs have some convenient benefits, there are the following associated drawbacks:
- Some students require the structure of in-person learning. This can make the flexibility component more difficult to manage.
- Students may not feel committed to attend online or even free online courses as they would an in-person course.
- Less accessibility to instructors.
- The effective use of MOOCs requires digital literacy.
- Students are less likely to form relationships with instructors and other students.
- General MOOCs may lack accommodation for students with visual or auditory disabilities.
- Courses may require strong internet connectivity, which can be an issue in developing countries and underprivileged communities.
- When searching for the right course, large amounts of similar courses for saturated areas may lead to a paradox of choice.