Companies like Udacity (founded February 2012), Coursera (founded April 2012) and Harvard-MIT collaboration edX (founded April 2012) are organizing the courses in such a way that anyone can have access to a slice of higher education. Now institutions such as Stanford University (Coursera and Udacity were both formed in part by Stanford professors) as well as many others, such as Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Irvine, University of Florida, University of Pennsylvania, University of Washington, Georgetown University, Rice University, and Indiana University, are creating courses to supplement their on-site school curriculum.
Another plus that’s coming out of the MOOC trend is the increasing development of social networks among students. In a Nov 2, 2012 article in its Education Life section, the New York Times stated that “meet-ups” are being organized in over 1,400 cities globally, in places like Beijing, Singapore, Barcelona and Coimbatore, India. And social interactions among students have been proven to be a very important learning and academic success component.
In today’s world economy, almost everyone needs assistance in pursuing their dream. In a similar vein, schools are also looking for ways of promoting their offerings. When times are hard financially, universities and community colleges see a rise in enrollment but also in interest from students who have very limited resources. One positive that has come out of our recent economic times is these innovative teaching methods and arenas in which to reach students all over the world. If a college or university counts a world renowned physicist as one of its assets, then why not let as many people as possible have access to that person’s knowledge and expert teaching abilities in order to promote the high level of education offered by that school? Of course, taking an online course is not going to be the same as taking an actual class at a school or university. Interpersonal communications are greatly enhanced within an in-person classroom setting. And when there are thousands of other students taking the course your chances of interacting online with the professor are limited. But MOOCs have their benefits, for all participating parties, and shouldn’t be ruled out. You may not get a chance to take a course from a particular scholar whose work or research you admire at the university you eventually receive your degree from, but with this new style of educational supplementation, you can get the best of all worlds.
Click here for a brief infographic history of the MOOC.