April 28 2015

How MOOC's Can Benefit Both Students, and Post-Secondary Institutions

Written by Nimritta P.

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shutterstock_124222054There’s a lot of discussion around “mooks” these days, but few people actually seem to know what they are. MOOC, as it is formally spelled, stands for Massive Open Online Course. MOOC’s first emerged in 2008, but they were not widely known or utilized until 4 years later when Stanford University Stanford became the catalyst for a major shift to open enrollment online courses. MOOC’s succeed in providing a broader audience access to knowledge and learning. Students can go through these courses on their own time, which allows for a more flexible, adaptable schedule. Despite being popularized by one of the most well known universities in North America, they were also largely scrutinized by post-secondary institutions out of fear that they would be forced to cut down the costs of their programs since they were being offered for free online. MOOC’s were thought to be disruptive, because they widened access to education. Schools and institutions were afraid that MOOC’s would overtake them, and make them obsolete.

Regardless of the initial reputation, the benefits of MOOC’s outweigh the disadvantages. Deciding between taking  MOOC’s or enrolling in higher education does not need to be an either or decision. MOOC’s can actually benefit both students, and higher educational institutions.

How do MOOC’s benefit post-secondary schools?

  1. Post-secondary schools can include MOOC’s into their curriculum. School’s that offer MOOC’s include the prestigious Harvard University, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and as previously mentioned, Stanford University. MOOC’s provide access to education to an increased amount of people, thus allowing educational institutes to extend their reach to a wider, global scale.

  1. MOOC’s provide schools the opportunity to build their brand. There is a strategy to deciding which courses to offer, based on what students want to learn. Institutes can draw students in by marketing those courses as open, and online, and keep students engaged by providing them with valuable content.

  1. School’s can reuse their content as they see fit, either by repurposing old class material for new classes, or simply by sharing the same content in different classes.

How do MOOC’s benefits students?

  1. There is a developing idea these days that, while the knowledge they provide is unarguably essential, university degrees are not preparing students for the job force, as the foundation of knowledge is largely theory based. MOOC’s have the power to fill major gaps in knowledge, by providing students the background information that will compliment their university education, and making them better qualified for the jobs they apply for.

  1. Courses start and end on set dates, so all participants learn the content in the same timeframe, but are able to listen to lectures and complete schoolwork when they choose within that set time.

  1. MOOC’s allow a more informal, comfortable learning style, while still providing formal educational material. Students receive quality information, but have the freedom to learn wherever they choose, whether that be from home, school, in transit, or anywhere in between. This also allows for more flexible learning, allowing students to plan their own schedules, and fit learning in where they see fit, not when they are required to.

  1. Even if students are not taking an MOOC as part of their post-secondary education, most MOOC’s do offer academic credit towards a broader program of study (such as a diploma or a degree, or offer certificates of completion.

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