A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a web-based platform which provides unlimited number of students worldwide with a chance of distance education with the best institutes in the world. It was established back in 2008 and gained momentum in 2012 as a popular learning tool. Many MOOCs have communities that have interactive sessions and forums between the student, professors and Teaching Assistants (TAs) along with the study/course material and video lectures.
So, if there is a particular course you want to pursue but cannot, you have an option of considering a MOOC for your chosen higher education path.
Think of it like an online platform where students and teachers come together and form an online pool of resources, which are readily available for you to utilize. You have the option of listening to lectures, downloading notes, contributing your own, and most importantly, sharing your point of view by communicating with your peers. Networking makes the process seem like a virtual online classroom.
There are various notable institutions, both non-profit and commercial, that offer these courses worldwide with the help of MOOC providers. A few of these are listed below,
• NPTEL (India): Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) offer online courses through this platform which require no registration and are free of cost.
• WizIQ (India and USA): IIT Delhi, India offers this course through this platform which requires registration and fees to study courses offered by them.
• Open2Study: The headquarters of this platform for online courses is based out of Australia.
• Coursera: The headquarters of this platform for online courses is based out of USA.
• edX: The headquarters of this platform for online courses is based out of USA.
• udemy: The headquarters of this platform for online courses is based out of USA.
Online Courses being a norm now, there are a lot of organizations out there that offer these MOOC courses, Coursera being one of them. Coursera was launched 4 years ago with an intention to make courses available for students or anybody who wants to learn, by offering them online. It offers online courses ranging from the sciences, i.e. Physics and Biology to Humanities, Social Sciences and even Digital Marketing, Designing, etc. Coursera happens to be the top most provider of MOOCs with over 2000+ courses to offer.
Also read: 10 benefits of online learning
The University Grants Commission (UGC) along with the HRD (Human Resource Development) Ministry has launched the MOOC program in India for higher secondary, bachelors and masters degrees. This will cover a wide range of subjects that may or may not be taught in regular campus studies.
A new portal for MOOCs named ‘Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’, in short, SWAYAM, is said to present students with an opportunity to study anything from a list of 2000 courses out of which 200 are currently available for registration. Audio-visual medium, illustrations, research and case studies with self-assessment are few of the mediums chosen to approach the study of these courses.
To provide further information on SWAYAM and MOOCs in general, Professor A.K.Bakshi, Chairman of the Centre for E-Learning, said, “These online courses have been developed by a team of senior academicians and are expected to enhance the gross enrolment ratio in higher education without compromising with the quality. These courses will also help in bridging the digital divide in the country.”
As it is being pointed out, MOOC cannot replace the traditional approach of classroom learning but it can be used as an alternative method to bridge the gap between various schools of learning. It has been said however that MOOC has certain limitations which are listed below:
• Although digitalization is a must now, there are many nations that are unable to provide the basic necessities to enrol for MOOCs hence the spread of MOOCs are limited.
• It is not always certain that all MOOCs provide degrees, certificates and/or diplomas which limits the number of candidates that enrol for these courses as many companies ask for records of the education levels achieved and candidates are unable to provide them with the same.
• A student’s life is confined to one room that has internet access and a laptop or a computer which allows little or no interaction with the outside world.
• Since MOOCs are web-based, there is no monitoring of the candidates/students, which carries a risk of plagiarism or cheating.
The new world of online education provides inexpensive education of college-level courses in many fields of study. However, it is said that employers are not completely convinced with the level of education and coursework provided by the MOOCs unless the candidate is looking for jobs in the Technology or Computer Science sector.
Generally, it is said that MOOCs are focused on providing education that will improve skills in specific fields of study, mostly focused on technology, science and mathematics. Although some of the online courses provide records of completion of the courses, the online education concept is relatively new. It is found that students are ready for this new concept however many employers are still hesitant and sceptical about it.
To summarize, MOOCs are a great platform for higher education not just in India but all over the world but it comes with its pros and cons when it comes down to the future prospects of students that have passed out of MOOCs. Since the concept is new and has garnered praise recently, it can turn out to be one of the best concepts off late.