You must have heard of “coursera” or “edX” or “Udacity” or a similar website. These websites are the pioneers in the field of massive open online courses. A massive open online course is an online course available to a large number of people, free of cost. These courses are available in almost every field like engineering, law, music, medical etc. The number of MOOC websites have increased significantly in the last five year with more and more universities tying up with these websites.
How it works
There might be slight difference in the procedure followed by different MOOC’s but they work more or less in the same pattern. The first step is registering with the website i.e., creating a free account followed by a verification.
Once you have registered yourself, you can select a course of your choice depending on your interests. Some courses require a prior knowledge; for example if are going for an advanced quantum physics course then you must possess knowledge about basic quantum physics. Some courses on the other hand, do not have any such pre-requisites, for example “Beginners Guitar” course by Trinity.
The course starts at a specific date which is declared much in advance. The most prevalent method of teaching here is video lectures. Lecturers from the respective university have recorded their lesson which is available to you and can be seen countless times. A course is generally divided into parts with increasing level of difficulty.
Each part has its respective test/quiz. The performance in these tests determine whether you will get the certificate or not. Different websites have different requirements but a candidate has to clear all the tests to get the certificate of completion.
The MOOC’s have made access to quality education much more convenient and economic. These initiative are no less than social service and have given a new horizon to the field of education. The advantages of these courses are manifested from the requirements of the course. All you need is an internet connection. You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to travel to far off places and you don’t have to devote yourself completely to the course.
The courses available are “free”[no conditions applied] and not from an ordinary next door university, we are talking about Harvard, Massachusetts, Cornell, Berkeley and the likes. The Universities 90% of the world population can only dream of. A regular course from any of these university can cost you up to a whopping amount of 30 lakhs. But an online course will only charge you about 500rupees a month in the form of broadband charges.
You can play a video lecture at any time and place you want. The biggest advantage for all the lazy bones out there. You don’t have to wake up early in the morning for this. You don’t have to go to your classroom or your college. You can be in your living room, bed room or wash room; it doesn’t make a difference. Coming to the more serious aspects, you don’t have to book a flight to New York that will cost you 40 grands. Now, you can eat home-made food and pursue a course from Harvard simultaneously.
In India, you cannot be enrolled with two universities at the same time. Also, the courses you are eligible for depends largely on your 10+2 education. Well, now is the time to get rid of these shackles. I completed my 10+2 with maths, physics and chemistry and I am in an engineering college, but I do have an interest in history and economics as well. I want to know what happened to Alexander and why the sensex keep fluctuating? Thanks to these MOOC’s I know how to fulfil these dreams of mine. These courses do not demand a full time devotion. On an average, a course requires 10 to 12 hours of devotion in a week and therefore the burden on the student is reduced to a great extent.
Another advantage of the MOOC’s is that it acts as a platform for social interaction. I know we have Facebook and twitter and xyz, but we are all aware of the quality of discussions going on Facebook. These websites apart from providing courses, provide a discussion forum where people from all over the world who share a common interest can share their views, doubts and experiences. People get to know about the latest developments in the field and get opinions from others.
Another advantage of the MOOC’s is that there is no age limit for the interested person. Most of the universities or entrance tests have an age limit of 21 or 23 or somewhere between 18 and 30. These courses however have no such age limit and you do not even have to clear an entrance test.
There are some Indian websites which provide online learning and video lectures like “Khan Academy”, “LurnQ” etc., but they cannot be classified as an MOOC. These websites do not provide a “course” per se and are simply a platform for sharing knowledge. Since it is not a course, you will not get a certification of completion as well. However there is an Indian trust called “EducateMe360” which is currently building an open-source online learning platform and will be offering online course throughout the world.
The article is researched and written by Satyadaitya Singh Dhakare