One of the latest buzzwords in the eLearning industry lately is MOOCs, or massive open online courses. You may be wondering why these are so revolutionary since online learning, or eLearning, is not a new concept. But MOOCs are a different breed of education. They are much bigger than current online courses, they use different technologies, and they usually feature some big-name professors that are celebrities in the education world. All you need is a computer and web access.
One feature of these courses is the flexibility students have. While higher education courses normally involve lengthy lectures, MOOC courses usually offer shorter lectures that allow the student time to react, reflect, and–if necessary, practice–before continuing to the next lecture.
Because these courses are free, they are accessible by many more users. Instructors are able to reach much wider audiences and students do not necessarily have to be able to afford a college degree to take courses or access an education. Want to take a class at Stanford University? Unless you’ve got the money, this would be seemingly impossible—until now. Universities are even beginning to take advantage of this new innovation. Students are taking lectures online, and having discussions and exercises in class—the learning is done beforehand and the “hands on” experience is left for the face-to-face learning experience.
MOOCs could be great for students who have a preferable learning style. Some are more exercise heavy, while others are more lecture heavy (which style would likely depend on the course instructor). MOOCs are currently not producing much revenue, but this may soon change as more and more users climb on board. They are also not offering college credit, but this could change as well as universities begin to see the benefits of MOOCs. Two downfalls of this kind of learning experience is the lack of personalization or relationship between instructors and students as well as the possibility of cheating.
There is no longer a “textbook definition” of teaching or learning thanks to technology. There are limitless possibilities for MOOCs and the future of education alike, possibly leading to a more educated world.