The lockdown has given almost the entire nation a LOT of free time. Some had engaged in pursuing their old hobbies, some took up new ones, some spent it working or studying, while others got some well deserved rest. All and all, many had explored and done things that were wishful thinking earlier. One of those things was learning. Yes, that’s right, like education learning. Now you might be wondering, this must be about online classes. Well, in a way, it is.
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) is a distance education platform, but with an unconventional twist. Apart from having the salient features like convention study materials on a large variety of courses and disciplines, what makes it more engaging is the feedback and interaction with peers and teachers alike. Also, instant feedback and remarks on assignments and quizzes gives a large opening to self analysis and development.
Various MOOC platforms, in partnership with various prestigious institutes, supersides the geographical and financial barriers to provide knowledge and education. But the points that should be mentioned are: Not all MOOCs are fully or partially free. Some courses need to be purchased for completion, that is, though the majority of the study materials, videos and notes that is, are free, but some materials, or some assignments, which are essential for completion of the course, are privatized. Even then, the costs are quite low in comparison to many physical learning options. Another thing is, it does not directly help in the educational degree. Rather, these courses are more helpful for knowledge enhancement, vocational growth and employment opportunities.
With the digital revolution, no sector was left unaffected. Education was no different. Early 2000s was the period of increase in online or e-learning availers. By 2010, MOOC, with a significant figure of learners, had made its presence known. Though, the term MOOC was denoted by Dave Cormier (University of Prince Edward Island) in 2008 in relation to a course, ‘Connectivism and Connective Knowledge’, organized by University of Manitoba, the concept was first introduced due to the evolution of MIT’s OpenCourseWare project. This project originally introduced the concept of open educational resources (OER). MOOC is one response based format generated out of this system.
MOOC, since it has a varied source of contribution, hence has developed in various ways. The two most notable distinct categories of MOOC would be cMOOC and xMOOC. Now, what’s the difference? The difference is in the approach of learning. In that respect, cMOOC is what is known to be the experimental and dynamic form. In such programmes, rather than having a predetermined set of study material, an aggregate of materials about the related subject is made available, with the scope of instant inclusions of new developments. They in the more basic essence, are the open sourced materials. Also, the platforms provide the opportunity of peer interaction for collaborative studies. This technique is based on the outlook that learning should be an interactive and ever evolving process. On the other hand, there is xMOOC, which follows more of the traditional methodology, like the university structured courses. These format is in restrictive, as the course material is close licensed, and hence may not be available to everyone. The primary objective in this case, more often is qualification rather than the actual process of learning. This method, too, gives emphasis on community interaction.
Some of the premiere MOOC platforms happen to be edX, Coursera and Udacity. Now that’s what I would like to call learning made fun and easy!