Friday, May 17, 2013

Open (Education) House

If you haven't been under a rock for the past year or absorbed in playing Candy Crush, you might have heard something about MOOCs.  A MOOC is a massive open online course.  Let's break it down- massive = thousands of motivated learners in a course.  Open meaning anyone can join (and usually free).  Online course means the delivery method uses the Internet to make it happen.

I've taken a few courses online through a couple of the MOOC innovator sites: Coursera, Udacity, edX.  There is more MOOC providers out there, in fact my university jumped into the mix.  Check out open.fiu.edu .  Not only do we provide free courses in English, but one in Spanish as well.  Look out for new classes in the future!  I'm putting the finishing touches on one of them this weekend.

Somewhere along the way I heard or read that the beginning of MOOCs was due to a lack of qualified employees in the IT field.  Someone created a MOOC, trained the students then connected those students with jobs in the field.  That's a great concept and for most of us, it sounds like a cheap way to "move on up."  It also provides an Ivy-League influenced opportunity for those who would never otherwise be able to experience it, as many of the universities are Ivy-League institutions.  However, most of these classes are a "lite" version of what the university provides for its for-credit/paying students.  In the late part of last year, some universities are providing some credit for successfully completing the MOOCs.  What about equivalency standards?

Here's another thought... is MOOCs the way online education is headed?  I think so, to a point.  It's been revealed that in our K-12 school district- all summer classes are virtual.  Tre bien (someone I know is taking virtual French lessons).  Time passes.  The new becomes old(er) and more common place.  Are MOOCs a trend like parachute pants, or more like beepers that transformed to cell phones and eventually to smart phones?  I'd like to think of MOOCs as an open house for institutions and their professors.  It's possible and probably that MOOCs will have some place in the future, but their lasting value depends on... the next step in our distance education journey.

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