Six MOOC Resources Worth Exploring
In a world where technology is king and the traditional ideas of higher education are floundering prestigious universities like Stanford, University of California at Berkeley and even Harvard have teamed up with Massive Open Online Course (abbreviated to MOOC) providers to offer their classes to the public free of charge. These MOOC platforms gives anyone who has access to the Internet a chance to take prestigious courses in subjects ranging from computer science to education by simply turning on their computers and logging in. The most popular of these MOOC providers are Coursera, Udacity, edX, NovoEd, The Open Learning Initiative and Udemy.
The most popular of these platforms is Coursera, a for-profit MOOC provider that originated at Stanford University. Coursera is by far the largest academic MOOC provider and will continue to grow considering they just received $43 million in new investment money. Coursera offers 215 different courses and all classes have video introductions. Coursera courses follow very rigid schedules and all deadlines must be met in order to receive course completion. Coursera does not offer class credit like a physical university class does, but some teachers award their students with a certificate upon completion.
The for-profit MOOC platform Udacity, like it’s competitor Coursera, has roots in Stanford, but has no affiliation with the university. Udacity embraces social media much more than other MOOC platforms by allowing it’s students to sign in with Facebook or Twitter. Udacity also uses software to grade tests, problem sets and assignments, but unlike Coursera, Udacity offers a proctored final exams at Pearson testing centers. Udacity also offers post-grad assistance through its free job-matching program where resumes are sent to partner companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google.
edX is a nonprofit MOOC platform that is associated with MIT, Harvard University of California at Berkeley and the University of Texas System. edX offers 21 courses and gives certificates of completion in all courses. Upon course completion through edX students will receive two certificates- one from an honor code and one from a proctored exam. These certificates show the school affiliate and also show the course was completed through edX- for example, HarvardX or UTAustinX.
NovoEd and The Open Learning Initiative are two different MOOCs that are trying to keep the idea of online learning just as interactive and personal as a physical class on a university campus would be. Novo Ed started as Stanford’s MOOC experiment but is now an independent MOOC resource that offers 9 classes. Many NovoEd professors enjoy keeping in touch with students via social media and pride themselves on their “learning by doing” attitude. The Open Learning Initiative began as a grant-funded project by Carnegie Mellon University in 2001. Since it’s beginning, 6 charity organizations like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have donated and supported the MOOC. The Open Learning Initiative likes to keep the lesson plans interactive and embraces the “learning by doing” attitude as well.
Udemy is a much different type of MOOC. Udemy strives to live by its slogan “The Academy of You” and gives anyone access to create their own course, because of this there are many diverse and not as prestigious classes available. Some popular courses include “Learn How to Juggle” and “Makeup Techniques and Applications”, but more serious classes like “Organic Chemistry” are available. All 6,000 available courses have no time restrictions, but are not all free.
While there is still lots of confusion and unanswered questions regarding the actual success of these Massive Open Online Courses there is no doubt that the increasing dependency on technology will change the face of higher education forever.