Open Online Courses Lure Students

  • Tue Apr 2nd 2013

Technology creates change and one field that is just beginning to really feel the impact of that change is education, where something called “MOOCs” may completely transform the college experience.

MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses. In 2008, one university offered one of its regular classes online, for free, and a couple thousand people took it. When Stanford did the same thing three years later with three courses, 300,000 people logged on.

According to Dr. Scott Garrigan, a professor at Lehigh University's School of Education in Bethlehem, Pa., “The distance students got exactly the same experience as the Stanford students. Many of the Stanford face-to-face students actually stopped coming to class, preferring to take the class online in their dorm because it gave them the flexibility of time.”

Today, more than 100 universities offer MOOCs, and millions take them. Web sites like Udacity and Coursera offer full menus. And the categories are whatever you want, from arts to education.

A four-year degree from a top school can cost more than 2 hundred-thousand dollars. MOOCs require only an Internet connection. That's led MIT and Harvard to launch one of the biggest experiments in the history of education. They created edX, their own MOOC site, planning to reach 1-billion students.

Dr. Garrigan says, “They want to use these millions and millions of online course experiences to find what works best, how do students learn best?”

Someday soon, you may be able to get a degree through MOOCs alone for next to nothing. For now, you'll get a certificate of completion, but even that can be a plus on a resume.

“We can see that technology will continue to be an engine for change,” says Dr. Garrigan, “and that that will include not only online learning, but also learning on mobile devices so it can be an anytime-anywhere learning.”

MOOCs are helping to turn the world into an open classroom.

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