What is MOOC (massive open online course)?

MOOC is an acronym for Massive Open Online Courses and its influence is growing. According to Wikipedia, a massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course aiming at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. Here is a What is Mooc? concept video by David Cormier.



As I am always curious about new technology and new ways of learning, I signed up for three MOOC cources on Cousera, around digital learning and business. My goal was to experience how they work and how online education, e-learning and today’s culture may impact future training. Today, most of my work with clients are done face to face after many hours of travel. Are there ways to offer learning via online and distance method?

1. Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application offered by Georgia Tech professor Fatimah Wirth unfortunately was cancelled due to technical glitches. You can read more about the glitch.

2. E-learning and Digital Culture offered by the University of Edinburgh – as I was traveling a lot during the time this course was offered, I attempted to view the short clips for the course on iPad, which did not always work for me. Some of the films were on flash and also the course was not as easily manageable. Now that I review the course objective, it did not have a formal learning objective. Although I did not gain a lot from partaking in the first half of the course, I consider this to be a good experience as a “lurker” who enjoyed watching some of the hypothesis and films which raises questions about privacy and control in future digital world.

3. Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses, Part I which began in January 2013 for 5 weeks with Edward D. Hess at Darden School of Business.

The course format is videos and workshops. I downloaded the video lectures, PDFs and case studies in bulk and loaded them onto my iPad. This allowed me to watch the video lectures while traveling on business. The downside to loading videos onto a tablet or mobile is that you won’t have a real time online quiz which pops from time to time to gauge one’s understanding of the concept and course. To be honest, I simply did not have time to watch them online and take all the quizzes. I did not have time for workshops. Well, I took the final exam and passed to obtain the Statement of Accomplishment, along with 10,260 who completed the course worldwide. The initial sign up was over 31,000 participants. This is a huge success vs. the usual 90% dropout rates for MOOCs in general.
Thank goodness I did not have to study before testing. After all, I advise business leaders on the fundamentals of business strategy, culture and growth.  It is always great to learn from others. I did watch the videos from the latter part of the course after the final exam because I was interested in the topic. Overall, the course was clearly outlined, materials were well prepared. I enjoyed the cases and appreciate the entrepreneurs featured in the course.

Here is what I learned from my first MOOC Coursera course experience.

1. Digital learning has its advantages as well as short comings.
2. It is not a good idea to sign up for three courses all at once along with your usual time commitment.
2. Have a clear learning goal for yourself.
3. Dropout rates are high (90%-95%)

I enjoyed the first experience so much that I just signed up for the second installment of the course, Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses, Part II. You can sign up at Coursera, https://www.coursera.org/course/GTG.

Now, you maybe asking what about Khan Academy?

Sal Khan believes that MOOC is a transplantation of a traditional course online therefore the Khan Academy is not a MOOC. He thinks of it as supplemental learning materials vs. replacing a course.

In addition to Coursera, there are Udacity, edX, to name a few. With technology, learning is at your finger tip.  class-central.com is a MOOC aggregator.


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