Free distance learning programs offered by leading accredited schools online sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, it’s best you start believing and possibly enroll for one because that is what MOOCs are.
Distance learning education has opened the door for students to experience what it feels like to learn at some of the globally known top accredited institutions online – without spending a dime, leaving the comfort of their home, nor filling any admission application form – by taking free online courses offered by top selected institutions.
Unsurprisingly, Massive Open Online Courses have drawn the attention of many students worldwide. The first free online course offered by Edx attracted over 150,000 online learners around the world. Coursera also attracted over 100,000 users when it launched it’s first online course. With over 3.2 Million sign-ups in it’s first year of existence, Coursera is currently the largest provider of MOOCs.
What is Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)?
MOOC is simply a program of learning tailored for students seeking distance learning programs; and offered by premier institutions to learners around the world – for free! Most Massive Open Online Courses are cut out of an existing degree course taught at the offering institution. This gives students the opportunity to ‘model’ the experience of studying a degree course at high-status institutions like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, or other prestigious institutions.
The teaching materials for the distance learning program may include student forums, instructional videos, set reading, and other tools to aid online education.
However, the actual answer to what MOOC means varies based on the institution offering the online course and their motive for offering the free online course. Whilst online courses may be targeted at students not enrolled at any higher educational institution, there are moves by accredited institutions online to offer distance learning courses to their on-campus students.
In the United States, there are suppositions that universities are now offering online degree programs as alternative to the traditional mode of learning so as to help students unable to fit into the classroom setting to complete the necessary modules required to attain their degree credits.
In addition to these, some institutions offer distance learners the option of taking accredited tests and exams for a fee. This may be equal to a part or full degree. Sometimes, might be a standalone qualification. This encourages students enrolled for online degree programs to become full enrollees to the program.
What are the limitations of Online Courses?
Despite the exciting features of distance learning education, online learning still has some limitations. This implies that online courses still have a long way to totally replace the brick-and-mortar learning institutions.
One of the popular challenges of online courses offered by accredited online schools, is the fact that an online tutor may not be able to interact with the thousands of learners enrolled for a particular course. This is a challenge in terms of providing support and assistance.
In addition to the low support, online learners lack access to laboratory facilities, face-to-face interaction with other learners.
What Solutions have been proffered so far?
A nearby solution to these issues is the creation of forums by these distance learning platforms where students can ask questions regarding issues confusing them and other enlightened learners and professors answers their questions.
Virtual laboratory has been designed for some courses on Edx and Coursera. Courses such as Biology, Circuits and Electronics and a host of others now have well-built virtual labs where students can practically test their knowledge on the online course. With the impact of online education in the educational field over the short period of it’s existence keeps experts wondering if it is the future of higher education.