Is Bigger Better?
A Look at the MOOC
The MOOC, or massive open online course, has taken the spotlight in recent educational debate. Growing popularity and high enrollment rates are forcing many universities to take a second look at their non-involvement. Let’s explore just what these courses are and if they’re a worthwhile addition to the span of higher education.
Lesson 1: What are MOOCs?
Two years ago, a computer science professor at Stanford made his course available online to anyone who wanted to sign up: 150,000 people did. Thus was the birth of the MOOC, courses available online for anyone, anywhere.
MOOCs are named as such for a reason. These courses are:
Students enrolled in MOOCs
Courses offered by major platforms
These courses are provided by many different universities and open to anyone who wishes to enroll.
The number of academic partners that offer courses on Coursera’s platform
Courses are even reaching as far as developing countries like Mongolia, where high school students are taking courses from:
Lesson 2: Beneficial or a Waste of Time?
The universities involved see MOOCs as a way of offering higher education to those who are simply interested in learning. But others view the courses as meaningless time-wasters with low finishing rates that shouldn’t ever count as college credit. Let’s take a look at the two sides of this argument.
The Bright Side
The “Presidential Perspectives Survey” got the opinion of 965 campus presidents regarding MOOCs. Here are the mostly positive results:
78% agreed that expanding courses online provides a way to serve more learners.
69% agreed that expanding courses online actually raises net tuition revenues.
Some Aren’t Sold
The percentage of enrolled students who actually complete MOOCs and do all the assignments. Many site this statistic as proof that MOOCs aren’t worthwhile and shouldn’t be considered for higher education credits.
Average drop-out rate for students enrolled in MOOCs
Another critique includes that the courses don’t provide quality education. The argument is one professor cannot properly teach hundreds or thousands of students at once.
Lesson 3: Where to Start
It hardly matters where you are in the world. Many countries now have access to MOOCs and their students are spread throughout the world. Here is a look at where the most students reside.
Country Where Coursera’s students come from
United States 27.7%
United Kingdom 4.4%
Rest of world 41.9%
There are courses offered in a number of areas, so finding one that interests you is easy. Some universities are even considering counting some for prerequisite college credit.
Subject areas offered at Coursera
Arts and humanities 28%
Information technology 23%
Resources for searching MOOCs