Who ever said that higher education had to be the same everywhere? No one, of course, but it seems like once things change in the world of higher education, someone somewhere causes a fuss. The world we live in is advancing at such a rapid pace that we must do everything possible to keep up. In addition, higher education is becoming exponentially more accessible to people all over. This is a good thing, but it also presents a challenge. How can we reach everyone? How can we reach the single, working parent in the same way that we reach the second-year traditional undergrad AND have the same impact? Disruptive, maybe even non-traditional, technology is the way to have the impact we are seeking. MOOCs are a great way to accomplish this goal!!
Massive open online courses are actively, positively disrupting the field of academia. Because of MOOCs, so much knowledge is being spread to individuals who would not have been able to access it previously. There are many examples of this. Individuals not formally enrolled in an academic program can learn information online. Individuals who ARE currently enrolled in any level of academic programs (undergraduate, graduate, associate, part-time) now have the ability to expand their knowledge range and are not only limited by their institutional offerings. Currently (and in the past), it is possible for students to enroll in courses through other institutions if necessary. However, MOOCs bring a whole new dimension to enrolling in courses outside of your own institution. There is no limit to the content that can be covered in MOOCs!! Some of the current popular topics include: coding and computer science, data science and data analytics, business and management, languages, biology and life sciences, and engineering.
From talking with peers, it seems like the most common courses to enroll in are statistics and data analysis topics. Statistics still feels like another world to me, so it is comforting to know that I can seek other options instead of just what is offered to me in my current department. In addition, R is a cool, fancy data analysis program that is free and open access. That all sounds great, but you have to learn how to use the program. And it doesn’t seem like that is that easy. However, there are all kinds of AWESOME, helpful, FREE courses out there that can assist you in learning to use this program!! Pretty cool.
To sum it up, I think that MOOCs and other forms of disruptive technology in higher education are awesome. We should all be in support of programs that help others learn as much as possible!