What is MOOC?

MOOC - online learning

For those who are unaware and unfamiliar with MOOC, let us tell you what it is. MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Courses. The term MOOC was coined by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island and Senior Research Fellow Bryan Alexander of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education in 2008 for a large online class conducted by George Siemens and Stephen Downes.

MOOC is a huge version of open online courses where hundreds or thousands of participants from all over the world come together to engage in a course simultaneously.

Why you should consider MOOC?

Massive central repository of expert content: The original concept of MOOC was to form a web course that people from anywhere in the world could take, and also to create expansive and diverse content, which is designed by a variety of industry experts, educators, and instructors, and deposited and accessed from a website.

Free of cost: Most MOOCs are free. However there may be a fee in the case where a participant wishes to receive an accreditation for a given course.

Self-paced learning: Courses are self-paced; learners can participate at their own time and convenience. However, to obtain a certificate, they need to complete a course within a stipulated time. This works best for students and working professionals who cannot attend full-time universities due to work constraints.

Non-traditional form of learning: Though the primary source of instruction delivery is through videos, learners can participate through chat, forums, blogs and other mediums. Sometimes they are also required to download links and undertake some reading outside of the course. They may also include assignments (individual and team) and online quizzes.

Peer learning and peer evaluation: MOOC encourages peer learning and peer evaluation. The participants learn from each other by commenting on and evaluating each other’s contributions, though this mostly works where participants are willing and able to give constructive feedback.

Valuable Interaction: MOOC gives a valuable platform for those primarily interested in learning, experimenting with new ideas and interacting and networking with like-minded individuals from all kinds of backgrounds across the world.

Useful learning tool: MOOC is a great tool for learning. It may be particularly useful for people in developing countries and those with little access to formal education.

Some tips to consider once you enroll yourself for a MOOC course:

  • Not all MOOC courses offer certificates and even if they do they are not worth institutional credit.
  • Do not rush into enrolling yourself in a course based on appearances alone. Some online courses offer high quality graphics and animated videos, while others may just show an instructor with a tablet in front of a camera. Try not to dismiss a course just because you don’t like the quality of the videos. Test out a class for a couple of weeks to get a sense of the instructor’s personality, interest and commitment level, and the content and its relevance to the subject.
  • Participants in a course may be highly educated professionals, high-school students or non-native English speakers with limited vocabularies. Hence, their feedback might vary or sometimes be non-constructive.
  • MOOC offers courses from social psychology to behavioural economics and from climate science to social media. As you are not under pressure to complete for high grades, pick up diverse classes and learn things you wouldn’t normally in a traditional institutional environment.
  • As MOOC is fairly new, so are a lot of the people who teach at them. As many of them are trying out the process for the first time, be prepared for a mid-course policy or content shift as the instructor learns what works.

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