The MOOC challenge

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There has been so much written about Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) lately. Time to jump in.

I’ve taught in the classroom and online (via web conference), but have neither taught nor taken a MOOC. Although I’m skeptical of all the hype surrounding MOOCs as the “future of higher education” and am not sure I ever want to teach a MOOC, I do believe they have enormous potential. Plus, I am curious about how they work from the student perspective.

All of the attention on MOOCs got me wondering about how many of us that work in and around the higher education space have ever taken – and perhaps even completed – one of the courses routinely discussed as the great disruptor of higher education. Would taking such a course make us think differently – either positively or negatively – about the future of online education in the MOOC mold after taking one of these much-touted (and sometimes maligned) courses?

Earlier this week I saw that Stanford Venture Lab posted a list of their fall online courses and it piqued my interest. I signed up for one. Piling on, this morning there was a NYT article saying that Coursera has signed up several new schools and now has more than 200 free MOOCS on offer. So the slate of MOOCs available is now well beyond engineering and computer science courses.

Here are links to several of the offerings available through a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit educational organizations: BerkeleyX, Coursera, HarvardX, MITx, Stanford Venture Lab, and Udacity. There are many other providers – just type “free online courses” into any search engine and watch what pops up.

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