Massively Open Online Classes (MOOC) - real world meet digital world

MOOC is one of those rare moment in the history of internet that put your trust back to humanity given that lust and envy is what we usually expect when we mention humanity and goodness in one sentence.

Mooc as the name suggest provides high school and college level education to individuals who never got an opportunity to continue their education due to various factors ranging from financial to family priorities.

The users has the opportunity to enjoy these courses from any geographic location as long as they have internet access and a will to learn something new. Some people choose to study from the comfort of their home while others like to make up study groups and use the nearest library to study.

This all started when Stanford University introduced a new pilot yet experimental course on Artificial Intelligence. The course promised full student-teacher interaction on forums and via discussion boards which made it an instant hit among people of all ages. This pilot program also proved that people no matter where they are geographically located would love to learn as long they are given an opportunity and what would be better than almighty internet to bridge this gap and so the race MOOC was on and various websites learned great deal from this experiment and began offering other course based on users feedback.

Udacity and Coursera are two of the most famous MOOC website. Udacity focuses on technical courses ranging basic Introduction to Physic to more advance courses such as Introduction to Parallel computing, sponsored by Nvidia. On the other hand, Coursera boost the largest courses catalog that has topics from humanities to science to history and engineering.

What strikes me the most when I started using these service is the quality and unique approach to teaching that could only be achieved by the power of internet and is largely missing from traditional educational institutions.

For instance, in Udacity’s Introduction to Physic, the instructor is not an old aged, suited booted scary men but a young adult, wearing trousers and safety gear as he navigates through the busy yet historical city of Europe where important scientific discovery took place. Think of him as a young tourist guide with incredible knowledge of physics and with a degree from MIT. He visits historic locations and teach the students all the principal and history of the individual that led to the discovery and later at the end of the video, he post small questions that user need to answer just to see whether they understood the concept. Same level of approach is also visible in Coursera.

I have been using Udacity and Coursera for quite sometime now and I am very please to say that I am really happy to see this development taking place. So far I am taking Python courses and Introduction to web development and very content with what I am learning.

However, critic of MOOC says that this online approach to education will give people an excuse to not pursue college level education and would cause students to drop out or skip classes. Furthermore, critic also claim that it is in human nature to learn from other human and this could only be possible if students are engaged in a classroom environment. 

Although, I am a strong supporter of MOOC but I have to say that there a hidden truth in to what the critics pointed out. We humans has the tendency to loose our focus esp. when we are online because dozens of things are running at the same time while we are online. Facebook, twitter, Reddit etc to name the few. These thing easily distracts individual while they are sitting in their school or college and the distraction level would only increase once we are alone with computer. This would only mean that serious learning would be thrown out of the window with MOOC and indeed we do need someone to push us to studies.

Now I am not saying MOOC doesn’t has a future or it is a bad idea. I feel it is an important platform for students, adults and old timer who wan to keep themselves up to date and keep on learning. As a matter of fact Scientific studies suggest that people who continually do mental exercise and keep on learning new things are less prone to Alzheimer diseases. MOOC is an alternate form of education and it should be treated that way. Traditional institute could learn a lot from this new digital platform and use this knowledge to make education as fun as possible for the future generation. Keep learn and all the best. Do share your story of MOOC and what course you would love to learn.

"Without education it is darkness and with education it is light. Education is a matter of life and death to our nation" - Muhammad Ali Jinnah