Should you Take a MOOC Course?
Top universities are offering free, non-credit online courses known as MOOCs. MOOC stands for “massive online open classrooms” and they are popping up everywhere. Here’s how it works—
- A university or college teams up with a MOOC provider
- They develop a course
- Thousands of people enroll in the course (which is often free)
- The course lasts about 6-8 weeks
- Select providers let you walk away with a certificate of completion
Hmm, free and online? Is there a catch? We wanted to find out! We asked Bryan, a current student in distance education, to search for a course offered by a popular MOOC provider, enroll, and document his experience. Here’s what he found!
Day 1: Found a Course!
I signed up to take a free, 6-week education course. A few days before the class started, I received one email that reminded me about the start date. On the first day of the class, there were 3 emails in my inbox that:
- Welcomed me to the class
- Instructed me to create a group or join an existing one (this group would later be the “go-to” place for posting my comments and discussing the materials)
- Encouraged me to start the assignments
The emails were positive yet basic; I could definitely tell they were slightly modified templates probably used for other classes. All of them began with a “Hi All,”
I was surprised at how easy it was to find a group I wanted to join. In less than 5 minutes, I joined a group, posted an intro about myself, and did a brief scroll through the other members.
Day 2: MOOC Course & Due Dates
After skimming the syllabus, I saw no due dates. This worries me because I have a feeling I will wait to the last minute to do the homework. My guess is that there aren’t due dates because the syllabus is used quite frequently and the professors don’t want to update it?? Who knows? I would prefer due dates, but want to find out what others think so I posted a question about it in the forum…we’ll see what they think!
WAIT! I found the due dates. They were in a completely different area…..thinking I should shut my mouth and search for things before getting all hot about due dates! I’m thinking that half of my time will be spent searching for things instead of discussing the content. Time will tell!
Day 3: Total Confusion
Hey, its Bryan and I’m CONFUSED! There were so many different groups and forums,
I am a little confused about what group to join, what forum to post in, etc. Time will tell if I did it right! based on the postings, it seemed as if several of my classmates were just as confused if not more. one person even decided to withdraw from the course because he was so frustrated.
Here’s someone’s post— (modified slightly to support confidentiality)
Maybe the professor or the people who are taking care of the online classes should create the groups instead of letting the students do it cause everyone’s a little lost around here.