Massive Online Open Courses or MOOCs are internet courses that are free of cost and help you enhance your knowledge or skills in a particular area and get certified after completion of the course.
Since I have started college to pursue my degree in Journalism, I have gotten this sudden urge to learn new things apart from my curriculum. College hours are comparatively less than high school and give one ample time to think and upskill. However, initially, I did not have the guidance or appropriate information regarding the platforms or services that could help me keep growing.
Through LinkedIn, I came across the concept of certificate courses and, later on, Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). As a majority, I was not sure how it works or what benefits I might get. However, once I had started taking MOOCs, there has been no looking back. My peers always used to ask me if I really benefitted from them, and you too must be having the same question. So to sort things out, I decided to discuss every important aspect of MOOCs. It will help you to understand them better and more effortlessly. It will also encourage you to make use of this fantastic feature of distance learning that does not restrict education based on demographics, finances, distance, languages, and more.
What are MOOCs?
Massive Online Open Courses or MOOCs are internet courses that are free of cost and help you enhance your knowledge or skills in a particular area and get certified after completion of the course. The word “massive” here itself refers to the huge number of students enrolled in a particular course across the globe.
To make things clear, these online courses are offered by institutions from across the world to a diverse student base that wishes to learn but might not be able to make it to the campus in person in order to pursue them. Also, MOOCs generally do not require any prerequisites for enrolling in a course.
MOOCs have a well-structured and designed syllabus that a certain institution covers in a few weeks or months. The courses aim to equip the learners with skills through methods of teaching which involve reading materials, short videos, and even one-on-one emails with the instructors in some cases. Now, MOOCs, like every other course, have specified deadlines for completing assignments that are in the form of discussion forums, short quizzes, and 150–200 word essays. However, these activities may vary among the providers of the courses.
After the completion of the course, the learners are provided with certificates, which again can be free of cost or may ask you to pay fees when registering for a course. The fee is generally economical.
Leading MOOCs Providers
Since you have learned more about MOOCs, you might be curious to know some of the platforms where you can take MOOCs. The following are the leading platforms that provide MOOCs:
- Future Learn
While I was doing my research regarding MOOCs before opting for them, I was caught up in a dilemma. I did not know if I would want to get certified or if I just wanted to learn. However, after observing LinkedIn profiles of a lot of professionals, I arrived at a conclusion that I wanted to get the certificate after completing the course as it validates your claim that you have taken up that particular course.
Although the fees of a MOOC are nominal, since I am a student, I was reluctant to pay for certificate courses apart from my regular college fees. Therefore, I came across the information that focused on attaining financial aid from the MOOC providers.
Financial Aids are a type of scholarship or help that the MOOC providers give to the learners who are not able to pay the fees for a particular course. There can be a lot of reasons why the learners are not able to afford those fees due to finances or medical expenses. In such cases, based on your financial situation, merit, and your statement of purpose to enroll yourself in a MOOC, the providers decide whether you will get the financial scholarship.
Coursera and EdX are two such platforms that provide financial aid and scholarship opportunities and I have benefitted from them. To be very accurate, of all the four courses that I have done so far, I have completed them with help of scholarships or financial aid and then have gotten a certificate of completion of the course.
MOOCs And The Credit System
Initially, the universities used to question the importance of learning through MOOCs. However, after seeing the popularity and students’ interests, MOOCs are now being accepted to gain credits on the university levels.
Purpose Of MOOCs
When it comes to the purpose of a MOOC, it is very subjective. For instance, an institution that offers MOOCs might want to garner the student’s attention towards it which might lead to full-time enrollment in the college.
From a learner’s perspective, which I feel is more important, they take a course only when they feel the urge to learn or upskill themselves. The MOOCs are not just an addition of certificates to your curriculum-vitae or resume but they should be a form of knowledge that is reflected in your work after the completion of your course.
Another purpose of coming up with the concept of MOOCs and people opting for them to learn is that they are approachable from any corner of the world to any population or community, provided you have a stable internet connection.
It gives the learners a glorious chance to get their dream university or college’s name on their certificates and learn from world-renowned professors.
Voluntarily taking up MOOCs in order to learn new or advanced skills in your field or even in other fields, shows that you are an ardent learner and that you are committed to adapting yourself to the changing environment of the world. The employers get a sense of seriousness that a candidate who has done several MOOCs is willing to learn and improve constantly.
Speaking for myself, I have completed four MOOCs and two other online courses and I feel that those knowledge banks have given me a better perspective for my major. Also, since, they are self-paced and you can set the deadlines according to your schedules, it gives an added advantage to MOOCs.
The power of MOOCs is being felt so much that countries like India have thought of offering online degrees from about 900 institutions across the country. Although, they are not MOOCs but the fact that this step has been taken by the government after observing the learners’ engagement with MOOC platforms like SWAYAM, Coursera, EdX, etc.
As the old saying goes: “Where there is a will, there is a way,” I feel that MOOCs are a perfect example of learning new things and attaining knowledge according to our time schedules.
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