Saturday, March 23, 2013
MOOCs Getting Bigger
MOOCs (or Massive Open Online Courses) emerged in 2008. Offering students the opportunity to study high quality courses with prestigious universities, but interestingly do not demand entry requirement and the courses are online and can be undertaken from anywhere and regardless of a student’s financial circumstances.
MOOCs are built for an online networked world where they can form virtual shared interest communities that can cut across geographical and cultural boundaries. These communities offer the learning support rather than the academic staff and assessment of MOOC courses includes peer-assessed written assignments and computer marked tests.
Course can include video lectures, online discussion boards, blogs, wikis and use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Coursera, was set up as a MOOCs less than a year ago by Stanford University and today offers online courses from 62 universities to some 2.8 million online registered students has now announced that it is signing up a further 29 universities, including institutions in the US, Europe and Asia. The move outside the United States includes the likes of; the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Ecole Polytechnique in France, Leiden University in Holland, Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, the University of Tokyo in Japan, National University of Singapore and the University of Geneva in Switzerland with new US universities including Northwestern, Penn State and Rutgers.
At present, although these online courses might be as difficult as their campus-based versions, most of them are not formally recognised as counting as course credits. However, five Courera courses including a genetics course from Duke University and algebra at University of California, have been recommended for accreditation. The interesting thing is that these courses are now effectively in the reach of students around the world.
The change is potentially significant effectively pitching high cost traditional campus-based courses against low cost and free online courses, which are distant based. One charging the students the other raising revenue from internet traffic and add-on services.
The edX competitor which is by the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Harvard has also announced an international expansion with the likes of Australian National University, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, McGill University and the University of Toronto in Canada and Rice University in the US.
The Open University in the UK has Futurelearn, with some 18 universities and institutions Universities such as Bath, Leicester, Nottingham, Queen's Belfast and Reading and also the British Library developing online courses.
So what is the future of the bricks and motor institutions with their spiraling fees and demand against this new breed of distance online and cheaper alternatives? Distance learning is not new but what is new is the commercial approach and collective collaborative platforms which could offer the best for less.