What is a MOOC?

cowMOOCs. Sounds like a cow coughing on a piece of grass. And what it stands for – Massively Open Online Courses – needs further explanation. How is it massive? What does it mean by open? And what does this term that’s suddenly coming up everywhere, appearing at our schools, making headlines in our newspapers, having articles in our magazines – what does this mean for the future of learning?

MOOCs are called massive because enrollment is not limited; instead of having a cap on students based around either physical space or teaching quality (grading for a hundred students versus a potentially unlimited number is quite different), the online courses offered allow anyone to enroll for free with no limit on how many students can enroll. This changes things, including how a course can possibly be graded without the manpower to go through thousands of tests and papers by hands, or who is able to attend, since anyone anywhere with an internet connection can access their classes.

These classes and the impact they could have on the future of the academic institution and learning are not to be dismissed, either, when you hear who have been creating these innovative classes: Harvard and MIT paired together to create edX, a Stanford professor has founded Udacity, and Coursera has a range of schools teaching their classes including Princeton, Stanford and Duke. Finally, there’s also here in New York: UAlbany and Empire State College have paired together to create their own MOOC course for this Fall, titled “Metaliteracy: ‘What’s in a name?: Information Literacy, Metaliteracy, or Transliteracy.’” (For more information about this MOOC, go to our blog post, https://ccistudentcenterblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/massively-amazing-and-free-opportunity-metaliteracy-mooc/)inigo mooc

The growing expense of education, particularly in a hard economic climate where it’s difficult to find a job after graduation, has been a worsening problem for years. The reality is that something has to change – but what? MOOCs give you one idea. Thus far, no college has yet to accept course credit for any MOOC course taken, but they’re a topic for discussion, and they’ve already begun to integrate them into some of their own school courses as an additional form of learning. “John Mitchell, the newly appointed Stanford University Vice Provost for Online Learning, envisions substituting traditional lectures with MOOCs so that on-campus time is spent collaborating and discussing rather than lecturing,” writes Forest Wright, a Project Specialist for custom research performance projects at Thomson Reuters.  Others say MOOC course certificates could become the new form of AP credit, or possibly student performance in MOOC courses could be used to recruit and find strong candidates for admission to a college.

Whatever the case, these classes are a revolutionary new form of learning and the current academic institution will have to find a way to make room for them in academia. How that will happen is as yet undetermined, but the future is upon us and we will see what will happen next.Mooc wordcloud

For another general article, read: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/massive-open-online-courses-are-multiplying-at-a-rapid-pace.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

For a look into how MOOCs could affect librarians, read: http://www.dlib.org/dlib/march13/wright/03wright.html

 

Image 1 by Lucca_Photo {link to http://www.flickr.com/photos/photo_lm/3274606247/}

Image 2 by Aaron Bady {link to http://thenewinquiry.com/blogs/zunguzungu/the-mooc-moment-and-the-end-of-reform/}

Image 3 by Jan Felton via bit.ly/1buwzvH {link to http://bestonlineuniversity.wordpress.com/tag/mooc-degree/}

 

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