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MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses)

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Gaius46, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. Gaius46


    Dec 15, 2010
    These are essentially free, non-degree (i.e. continuing ed), online courses given by companies that are partnering with some huge name universities (think Harvard and MIT kinds of universities).

    Right now I'm taking a class in Critical Thinking, from Coursera, given by a Duke University philosophy professor. Class is 9 weeks long and is comprised of video lectures (I watch one daily) followed by exercises and then quizzes once every two or three weeks.

    The massive part of the name relates to the number of students. There are thousands of people signed up for this particular course which means direct interaction with the instructor is impossible. In place of that there are discussion forums where students can get together to discuss what's being taught (as well as other online sources for getting explanations of the subject matter).

    So far I'm enjoying this style of learning. I don't have an issue with watching video lectures, I did a good portion of my non yet finished masters degree at SMU via video lectures though in that case I was able to email to profs if needed. And I can where, even if it they never get to the point of offering degrees, this type of learning would appeal to people who've gone to school but want to continue learning on a continuing ed basis.

    Like it so much that I've enrolled in 3 additional classes for next year. Two of which are music related. One is a music production class taught by a Berkley instructor and the other is a jazz improv class with vibraphonist Gary Burton, who's also a Berklee prof. For that one they want a sample of your playing. What they're going to do with thousands of samples I don't know - but I am looking forward to finding out.

    Anyone else have any experience with moocs?
  2. Free book lernin'? sounds like a good idear to me.. if I had the internets at home i'd sign up.
  3. Unprofessional


    Mar 5, 2012
    You're experiencing the future of college education. Except you'll pay tuition (much cheaper than currently charged) and get credit and degrees.
  4. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Too bad you can't learn this way and then just pay to take tests. For most degrees we've been teaching the same content for years, why pay top dollar? A degree should simply mean you've mastered content. If you can teach yourself, why is the traditional and expensive route the only way to go?
  5. Athabasca University in Alberta is at the forefront of this style of education. Some very well recognized programs (MBA has been ranked top 75 in the world) and they are the only university in Canada that holds accreditation in both Canada and the US.

  6. Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Anytown USA
    If you're into web design, I can't possibly recommend this any more. I learned lots there.
    Oh I forgot to mention the most recent is from 2010, all still very valid and useful.
    By the way it's Harvard, FYI.
  7. I'd say its going to be more common in the future, however, I think many courses need a greater focus on practical work, not just book work.

    At least in the sciences and engineering you couldn't so solely online courses, ditto for courses in healthcare etc.

    The monetary issue is certainly a more American thing, though I know its creeping up in many parts of Europe and will likely be do the same throughout the rest of the world.
  8. I've signed up for a couple of music related courses on Coursera that are due to begin end-Jan and end-Feb respectively. Definitely looking forward to it :)
  9. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    Neat, thanks for the info!
  10. It's pronounced Hahvahd, as in Hahvahd Yahd! ;)
  11. Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Anytown USA
    Yeah don't forget to Pahk ur Cah! :)
  12. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I do the classroom and online tech for a Continuing Education unit at a land-grant university. We have a couple of MOOCs in the works because we plan to be players. Today MOOCs are a curiosity, as no one really knows where they're going to go. However, the info is genuine and they're a good way to learn if they match your learning style. Over time, you will see more of them eligible for credit, probably requiring an exam of some type after completing the MOOC just to demonstrate that you gained competency in the topic.

    This is one of the most debated topics in higher education, because the long-term impact of MOOCs is unclear. I personally am sure that the bricks-and-mortar campus will continue, since young people go there for the socialization, chance to mature and for the education. That's not going to change. However, the need for continual, lifelong learning is with us and the online options are very important for accessibility and outreach to everywhere.
  13. I think another situation where MOOCs can be of appealing prospects is when a person might be studying a course that does not incorporate something that he/she might be willing to learn.

    In my case, for example, there are almost no opportunities for me to study a course in music/music production, given the fact that universities in India generally have a fairly rigid curriculum without many options for flexible courses that can be pursued simultaneously with the main subject. I do realize though, that this might not, in general, be the situation with western education. Also, I'm not entirely sure how useful the certifications as of themselves are at this point in time. Even so, I can see this becoming a big thing sometime in the future, especially considering a global perspective which incorporates students from developing nations.
  14. 6jase5

    6jase5 Mammogram is down but I'm working manually Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2007
    San Diego/LA
    MOOC's are the future as said before. There will always be the place for traditional schooling, but there are several MOOC's that are charging nominal fees and only one that I know that is accredited for college. That will change.
  15. Very cool, thanks for that link. I also checked out some of the other places that offer MOOC's and signed up for some of the Coursera courses and the intro to computer science course on Udacity. Maybe this will keep me away from the TB classifieds for a while...
  16. Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Anytown USA
    I think a mistake many people make is trying to have exams and a piece of paper after any courses like this. To me the information is and should be considered priceless. End of the day did you want to learn it? Then you'll most likely use it and remember it. That's why that expensive piece of paper you get for your brick and mortar school will be obsolete very soon. Colleges got greedy with their 500% increase in tuition since the 80's, it's soon to bite them all in their expensive asses.
    That's my 2 cents.
  17. I agree in some regards.

    However, the raw information is often even less important than the exams and the paper.

    Anyone can access the raw information in this day and age. Understanding the information is a valuable skill, learning how to learn on your own, is a valuable skill. Is that where the skills stop?

    No, the hands on, specialised training, be it being taught in a laboritory, placement in a hospital ward or getting dirty in an engineering bay, university graduates need MORE hands on experience, not less.

    We'll always need specialised areas for hands on teaching in one form or another and I think Universities are always going to be required to one extent or another.
  18. Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Anytown USA
    I couldn't agree more with you, I recently got hired for a new job and out of the 6 new hires I was the only non tech school person. But to be fair I did similar work in the real world more than 11 years ago, so real experience wins yet again.

    And during my interviews, my auditing of the Harvard courses made for a nice talking point. After getting the job I made the joke that finally my Harvard education paid off! LOL

  19. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Sorry about the zombie thread, but is anyone doing anything more with MOOC's? As I'm 12 weeks away from finishing my MBA (and no sight of finding a rich wife or donor to finance my D.B.A. or Ph.D.) so I'm looking towards some of the MOOC's to continue my education. I'm definitely looking at a couple of economics courses on Coursera.

    One question though... do these verified certificates mean anything to employers or anyone? Are they worth the $39.00 to say you satisfactorily completed certain courses?
  20. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    I'm curious, too. I'm considering a career change into healthcare, and, before I make the jump, I'd like to take a couple courses just to see if it's something I'm truly interested in pursuing.
    tplyons likes this.