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 .”
- Dennis, M. (2012). The impact of MOOCs on higher education. College and university, 88(2), 24.