MOOCs in higher education: Case-by-Case

From my personal experience, I find MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) useful to those that want to understand the basics/fundamentals in a field of study or topic of interest. However, I don’t think MOOCs are very helpful for advanced level courses or if one wants to master in a particular area of a subject. In this case, I believe that classroom-based one-on-one training with in-class discussions and projects is beneficial. But again the advantages of having MOOCs is appreciable and invaluable. Like, why would someone want to pay 100s of dollars to get enrolled at a local community college or university (where the course fee is even higher) for brushing up on simple basics, when they can receive this information online for free? For instance, I am a biomedical student, and whenever I want to learn to code for simplifying and automating simple problems in my research, I immediately go online and look for a programming language course to help me understand how to solve the problem. Nevertheless, I always double-check or consult an expert in the field to make sure what I am doing is right. I had taken a programming course on Coursera a while ago and found it super fun. I enjoyed those classes on how to program in Python. However, I found out sooner that I couldn’t master coding unless I practice it regularly. On the flip side of the coin, when it comes to an understanding of in-depth concepts related to my research (in biomedical sciences), I usually read textbooks or research articles and prefer taking an in-class course.

What I am trying to imply here is that choosing a MOOC versus traditional in-class lecture depends on what one is exactly looking for and also on their background and the application of the knowledge acquired. In my opinion, if one identifies the level and complexity of what they want to learn and then chose to go with either MOOCs or in-class enrollment, I don’t think MOOCs can be destructive at all. It depends on the person to use their judgment and chose what suits them better. The same applies to social media as well: it increases general awareness in people, but one has to be extra cautious in assimilating the right cents of information while screening out junk. Concerning education, it is a global issue at hand, and hence MOOCs and social media can serve as a great tool to connect people across nations in sharing/discussing their pedagogical and philosophical thoughts/concerns. I couldn’t agree more with what Dennis stated in the article ‘The Impact of MOOCs on Higher Education’:
“Hardly a day goes by when MOOCs and their potential to reach millions of students worldwide are not mentioned. Neither does a day go by without some article about the dire state of higher education in the United States, the unsustainable business model of many colleges and universities, the unmanageable student debt of many college graduates, and the need for reform [1].”

  1. Dennis, M. (2012). The impact of MOOCs on higher education. College and university, 88(2), 24.
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4 Responses to MOOCs in higher education: Case-by-Case

  1. Ruoding Shi says:

    Thank you for your post! I have exactly the same feeling about online classes. they are interesting but tend to superficial compared to traditional classes. Another concern of online education is that it is difficult to build a connection between teachers and students, which is a very important component in a person’s growth and learning.

  2. maryammoarefian says:

    I agree with you that using MOOCs is really depends on what the user is looking for. Some users are using MOOCs without completing the courses of interest since there is no certification of completion. However, there are some articles which indicate MOOCs’ failure due to the low percentage of course completion. Do you think it is the good criteria for evaluation of MOOCs failure or success?

  3. Jyotirmoy Mukherjee says:

    Thanks for the post! It surely is the education of today and the near future. MOOCs are definitely useful and when it comes to using tech in education, there is always a choice how to get the best of it. Of course, it depends greatly on the person who uses it. I remember a few instances when the faculty member made a complete mess of the tools that could have been used so well for example, using online lectures as a substitute during his absence and choosing a really unpopular one while on the other hand, another faculty is using these online resources in tandem with those being used at Stanford, MIT etc which helps us align our assignments and projects according to those institutions. In a way, using tech in ed is a gamble as it depends on how well the user knows his tool.

  4. Led Gill says:

    I like that you brought this up. I didn’t know what MOOCs but I know similiar website that does similar concept that you are describing. I have personally used it before and realized how useful they are. I believe they are extremely useful when it comes to learning new subjects. For example, I wanted to learn language and I was able to find a series of videos that walk me through step by step how to write a piece of code. I would like to see university advertise or have faculty members use these resources for classroom learning tools.

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