Venturing into a ‘MOOC’

Source: The Online Pecking Order – Inside Higher Ed

Most of my readers might not be familiar with a new phenomena in higher education: the MOOC (Massively Open Online Course).  MOOCs are the current fad of higher education, mostly because they offer the ability to deliver content and learning to potentially large (thousands) groups of students at a time.  Importantly, they might be able to do so incredibly cheap, as well.

A quick briefing on MOOCs:

More upsides to delivering these classes to thousands of people include their accessibility; the majority of the classes are online and have large groups of international students who support one another.  By providing such a mechanism, it is natural to think that those who actually complete the coursework and participate in the class can take advantage of free or cheap learning and boost themselves up in the world.  No doubt, the same principles could apply to large groups of students in any setting, poor or not.

The downsides of MOOCs, however, do exist.  First, the upside of accessibility is wrought with the downside of requiring internet access and a competent understanding of how to navigate in a web browser.  Furthermore, being one of many (as I said, thousands of people) likely means that students are going to miss out on the personal interaction of classmates and professor.  There is the interaction between students and faculty through electronic fora, but the viability of this is questionable (at least to me).

So, as an interested party I’ve decided to venture into a MOOC and document my ‘journey.’  I hope to post my thoughts, feelings, and probably most importantly, what I’m learning about the content of the course, on this blog.  Please follow along.

The class I’ve enrolled in is A History of the World Since 1300 through Coursera. The professor is Dr. Jeremy Adelman of Princeton University and I am one of 70,000 students enrolled.  Way cool?  Yes – and let’s find out how it goes!


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