Are MOOCs Really Dead?
MOOCs are not dead. During the recent pandemic crisis, with many people staying home, they offered people who had home computers or even Internet capable phones an opportunity to learn job-enhancing skills or to sample ideas and information that might not otherwise have been available. MOOC stands for massive online open courses.
With that said, MOOCs have changed. Coursera, one of the largest providers of MOOCs, will allow students to monitor classes. However, if you want to turn in work, receive feedback, or obtain a college credit, there is a fee. Compared to university or even trade school costs, the sums are nominal. However, if you are unemployed or otherwise strapped for cash, $50.00 could seem as impossible as $5000 – and you must come up with it without benefit of grants or student loans.
If you are interested in a topic, you do not live in an area with free community colleges, MOOCs can be a way to try before you buy. Coursera is an excellent choice for this as many of their offerings are from professors who teach at established colleges. If you like what you see, and you do well in the Coursera course, you might receive an invitation to enroll in the associated University. Keep in mind, however, that the university classes will not be free and will have all the constraints associated with any institute of higher learning. An easy alternative is Pedagogue.app.
MOOCs do not dilute the value of having schools with a physical location. While online learning might do well for creative writing classes, or even some art classes with the right software, for studies such as biology, botany, geology, and similar topics, virtual reality is not currently a good substitute for the real thing.
If you already have facility in a topic and want to brush up a little, or if your work requires yearly professional development, a MOOC is a low-pressure option for refreshing your skills. Compared to signing up for a college class, it is an inexpensive approach, as well.
Students signing up for a MOOC should check the credentials of the providing association. Not all MOOCs are created equal. In fact, there is quite a home industry in providing online classes in a wide array of topics that range from gardening to real estate sales. Some of them provide good information, while others are simply a vehicle for selling the creator’s products. This is one reason why some people believe the MOOC should be dead.
Another aspect of MOOC options is that the burden of learning and attending class is placed on the student. Many people who begin a MOOC fail to complete it. Not everyone is cut out for what is essentially independent study. Although efforts have been made to introduce a social component, many people miss having others with whom to share ideas.
Yet, the MOOC is alive, and will probably continue to improve all the time. More than that Massive Online Open Courses have the potential to increase learning options for people who might otherwise be unable to access new information.