What is an MOOC?
Well it is defined as a Massive Open Online Course. Put simply it is a method of learning that uses video tutorials and materials that can be accessed by vast numbers of people from any location at any time. There are a huge number of companies out there who are now in this space and they are offering a massive range of courses from online English lessons to courses on how to deal with anxiety for sufferers and parents. Even the Open University has built a range of free MOOCs called Open Learn.
What Was There Before?
Before the idea of an MOOC appeared, online learning was still popular but it was more narrow. The idea was you paid for a course and had to be at your computer at a set time for a live online lecture or study session using slides or presentations. This meant people could learn in their own homes or even work places but not on their own schedule and at their own speed. For some people this level of structure was a very good thing as it kept them on track and removed the need for motivation.
What an MOOC Has to Offer
A massive open online course allows people to learn at their own pace. This is critical for people with busy work and family lives where a pre arranged list of lectures simply wouldn’t work. An MOOC allows people to take lessons when they have the time rather than having to organise their lives around lessons times. Another massive advantage is that the courses can be taken on any device. So people are now learning on the train to work, in bed after a long day, on night shifts and more. The flexibility is enormous and certainly making these kinds of courses very popular.
While it’s great to take a lesson anytime, on any device and in any location it is also really useful to be able to retake a lesson and go back over things at any time. For many people certain aspects of a course are harder than others and with a standard learning system or a collage course there is no real way to review and retake a lecture or lesson. With online courses people can simply re watch a video lesson and can do so multiple times until they feel they understand the subject. What does this achieve? Well it will certainly go towards a higher pass rate if an exam is needed but the level of learning will be greater because everyone was able to do it at their own speed.
There is no doubt that people have come to expect things for free online. Whether its music, movies or recourses and information the culture of getting it for free is huge. It is beginning to change now with premium ad free services but there is still a big appetite for free content and in many cases MOOCs are free to use. There are of course many that do require a fee but a lot of foundation courses are free with the obvious use of adverts in and around the learning material. More specialised courses can then be behind a paywall but for most people that is OK. They can begin a full course with no cost other than their own time and if they want to move into more advanced areas they can consider paying.
It is not just convenience that appeals when it comes to MOOCs there is a far more serious advantage for certain parts of society. For people who are unable to leave the house because of health issues the idea of learning and becoming skilled in a new area or improving maths or English standards for example was not really an option until now. Suddenly people with this kind of issue have an entire world of learning open to them. For many people with mental health issues the idea of going to a classroom is simply not an option but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to learn and it is the same with people who suffer physical issues be them temporary or permanent. Imagine someone off work with long term back problems suddenly being able to learn a new skill that allows them to work from home or change career…the possibilities are endless.
The rise of the MOOC is a huge liberating factor for people who are unable to attend conventional classroom learning. People who are too busy with families or stuck in a job they can afford to leave but want to re-skill can suddenly do so and for free! People who are ill, disabled, or unable to leave home for any reason can also now learn things like coding, or content writing which are jobs that can then be done from home in the future. But it is not just in the UK or developed countries, these courses can be taken by groups of people in the third world, class rooms can be created in refugee camps as long as there is a screen people can share. The idea of people learning English or another language to smooth the passage of asylum seeking and integration can only be a good thing!
All in all the rise of the MOOC is a very good thing and it is worth remembering from an investment and business point of view many companies offering this kind of learning are going to be the next big players in the online bubble too…and if yu don’t know much about investing in business and making money; well there is a MOOC for that too https://www.mooc-list.com/tags/investment