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MOOC: The modern GURU for learning

MOOC’s which is a short for Massive Online Open Courseware are gaining a lot of attention these days. Let’s see what these are and how they are going to revolutionize education industry.

In the past, other than traditional classroom based learning we have other forms of learning like correspondence course, broadcast courses, radio casts and TV casts. These are not very effective i.e., these are mostly viewed as communication in way and nowhere matches the two way communication that happens in classrooms. With introduction of MOOC this view is changing. MOOC is a form of online learning where anyone with specific knowledge can start them and any number of students can join to learn. Generally famous universities (ex: Harvard University of USA, All major IITs from India etc…), well known academicians start MOOC.At present MOOC’s are present in the field of higher education only. It got its name from: ‘Massive’ because large number of people register from different parts of world. ‘Online’ as it is delivered online. ‘Open’ because it is open to everyone.

Many people consider MOOC as a form of distance learning but it differs a bit from distance learning. A distance learning course has to be completed and spread over 4 months to 2 years. Whereas a MOOC is generally aimed to complete in 4 to 12 weeks. There are quizzes and assignments in MOOC which are evaluated by peers, professor or software. In a few MOOC’s you can jump forward or bakward.All these make MOOC a bit different from distance learning.

The cost and prerequisites to enroll for a MOOC are minimal or zero. One need to know basics of computer operating, able to spend weekly 5 to 7 hours, generally no prerequisite knowledge and cost will be zero or very minimal just to earn a certificate. At present there are many MOOC’s like Coursera, Edx, Udacity, Khan’s academy, Futurelearn etc. As everything has pros and cons MOOC’s do have pros and cons.

Pros being there is no fees, one can learn from experts on the other side of the world, no entry requirements, and courses are often short and flexible. All you need is a decent broadband internet connection with a passion for learning, you can literally learn anything from physics to cryptography.

Cons are the face to face interaction will be less as compared to classroom. Because of this reason this depends a lot on the learner’s motivation level. In case of somebody needs a push in terms of learning, this may not be effective. This is a major reason why typical completion rate of a MOOC is about 10% = 12%, which is way lower compared to class-room based courses that has completion rate of more than 80%. This is where having a virtual classroom comes handy that tries to balance interactivity with remote aspect of education. Discussing details of virtual classroom is another post by itself, will explore more on this topic later.

Coming to future of MOOC’s many universities are looking forward to offer basic courses through MOOC’s as they can reach out to large population in one go. Research also indicates that there is no variation in learning when between classroom learning and MOOC, given that learners motivation levels are high. Researchers are trying to include experience based learnings in MOOC’s. In Indian context MOOC’s are very helpful as we have a large youth population who needs to improve skills. Internet is penetrating at a fast rate. This will help Indian’s to build their knowledge and improve their skills.

This is just the start of MOOC, still a lot of research and investments are going on to develop MOOC as a revolutionary medium. As far as individuals are concerned one has to balance between traditional classroom, virtual class room and MOOC to have a holistic and balanced approach towards learning.

Following are some of the URLs to know more about MOOC:

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