Omninox

A blog about education technology, teaching, learning, and startups

The Place of MOOCs and Online Learning Systems

Understanding MOOCs and their Place in Education

Throughout this year, MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses gained increasing attention with their adoption by big name universities including MIT and Harvard. At which, students can take classes led by renowned professors any topic of their choosing. With this adoption, countless sources (The New York Times, Forbes, etc.) now question their pros and cons as well as their significance in the world of education. However, there’s been no clear explanation of MOOCs and online courses as a whole. Whatever the type, learning in any form broadens your future pool of knowledge; which can really pay off!

The first type, pay-as-you-go, allows users to pay for varying levels of education. For example, students might pay per class, per year or a subscription fee. These systems include examples like Coursera, Lynda and Universal Class. In some cases, pay-as-you-go allows the student to receive/ purchase a certification certificate. These can then be honored by employers or even universities with credit! In this sphere, the New York Times ranks Coursera as the biggest.

If you’re studying or employed at a university, check out their free resources. For example, the university might buy a subscription for all students with Lynda.com. In such case, you pay nothing and learn to your heart’s content. Check out your university or even workplace!

Another way to learn online involves going directly to the source. For example, you can get certified in Microsoft Office by going to Microsoft’s website and scheduling an exam! Although this often costs an exam fee, your employer will definitely know it’s legit!

Thankfully, free resources exist everywhere! Some examples include:

  • Codeacademy- Teaches a variety of coding languages. (No Certificates)

  • Udemy- This online course platform hosts both free and paid courses that also come with certificates!

  • Skillshare- This is similar to Udemy, but with varying degrees of Free and Premium Membership. Free membership comes with advertisements and limited video viewing time. (No Certificates)

  • Free University Courses- These can be found anywhere from Harvard, MIT or even Berkley. Check them out! Now, let’s dive into the Advantages and Disadvantages:

Advantages

  • Broaden your Knowledge in Comparison to Your Peers
  • Learn about What You Care to Learn
  • Boosts Resume
  • Learn at Your Own Pace

Disadvantages

  • Takes Away from Free Time
  • Costs Money
  • Might Not be Valued by Employers or Universities
  • Possible Technological Problems (Internet outages, computer issues, etc.)
  • Loss of Face to Face Learning Overall, it’s a toss up as to whether or not to use MOOCs. Online learning includes both positives and negatives that should be considered carefully. Really, it depends on the person and their learning preferences. Although, from personal experience, I’d say they’re worth a try!

Image Source: http://www.nature.com/news/online-learning-campus-2-0-1.12590