MOOCs, Massive Online Open Courses, are classes with hundreds or even thousands of participants from every corner of this planet with internet access. MOOCs are a major hype right now, with international publications discussing their merits and demerits (see NY Times, Focus.de, Frenchweb, Die Zeit, The Guardian). The Americans are paragon in this field of education, with countless courses on the platforms Coursera, edX, and Udacity.
“…FutureLearn will offer courses from world-class universities, accessible on desktop, tablet and mobile. Allowing people to fit learning around their lifes rather than their lifes around learning.”
From the FutureLearn G8 introduction video, July 4, 2013
The British are about to start FutureLearn in cooperation with Irish and Australian support, the British Museum and other partners (see here). Australia’s Deakin University announced their first MOOC in June. In Germany projects Iversity, Allversity (with a focus on International Development topics), and Candena (a business selling MOOCs to big enterprises for internal, reoccurring trainings; also running a MOOC with Leuphana University) are open for business. And the French had their first native MOOCs, too (ReSOP, ITYPA).
(For more background information, refer to the reading list at the end of this article.)
“As these online universities gain traction, and start counting for actual college course credit, they’ll most likely have enormous real-world impact. They’ll help in getting jobs and creating business ideas. They might just live up to their hype. For millions of people around the globe with few resources, MOOCs may even be life-changing.”
Commentary by A. J. Jacobs: “Two Cheers for Web U!”, April 20, 2013
“When I visited [Coursera in May 2012], about 300,000 people were taking 38 courses taught by Stanford professors and a few other elite universities. [In January 2013], they have 2.4 million students, taking 214 courses from 33 universities, including eight international ones.”
Commentary by Thomas L. Friedman: “Revolution Hits the Universities”, January 26, 2013
I’ve enrolled in two Coursera courses at the moment: Introduction to Public Speaking (hosted by Matt McGarrity, University of Washington) and The Camera Never Lies (hosted by Emmett Sullivan, Royal Holloway | University of London). I’m looking forward to my Introduction to Global Health and Climate Change starting soon on Coursera. But I’m not eagerly hunting for scores, so I won’t pass the tests. For me, that’s not the goal. I love to learn, enjoy the “information nugget” format, and like to put the knowledge into practice, but I hate to take tests. I take my value out of this classes without the piece of paper at the end. But the important point is: Thousands of other people will pass and get certificates.