Online Learning and Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC’s)

Online Learning and Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC’s)

A massively open online course, or MOOC, represents something of an educational revolution. It challenges many long-held notions about what comprises a class and a classroom.

In a MOOC, a single course can accommodate as many people as want to sign up for it. And each student can decide how active to be in that course. That is, you might want to listen to every lecture and complete every assignment, or you might just want to take in a few individual lessons. For example, if you enroll in a MOOC course on the Civil War, but you only want to learn about Gettysburg, you can simply tune in for the lecture on Gettysburg, or review the reading materials your professor makes available on that particular battle, and ignore the rest of the course. 

A MOOC might involve learning sessions that are spread out over a few months, as a typical college course is arranged, or it might only involve a week’s worth of lessons. A professor and a number of students might meet up on the web at the same times each week, or the professor might simply supply a series of lectures and reading materials to all enrolled students to review at their convenience. There may or may not be any grading involved. 

MOOC’s are an example of the connectivist theory of education. Under the connectivist approach, all students are encouraged to share the relevant knowledge that they already have with the entire group during web meetings. Connectivism proposes that learning is enhanced when every student “feeds” knowledge to other students, as opposed to there being merely one teacher from whom a group of students learn everything. Connectivism thus serves to make learning much more informal. 

Some educational experts have criticized the basic notion of the MOOC, arguing it represents a sloppy, undisciplined means of learning material. Certainly, it can be difficult for an instructor to create a specific plan for a particular course, because there’s no way to tell what directions the conversations might go in when students are continually chiming in with their own information. And no one doubts that the MOOC concept will undergo many improvements and refinements over the years. Still, if you’re interested not only in learning a certain subject, but also in becoming an educational pioneer of sorts, then why not look into a MOOC?

Online learning market place

Apr 27, 2012