My take on MOOCs

MOOC. It’s such a funny word. I mentioned my interest in taking a MOOC to an IT friend over the weekend and he had NO idea what I meant. Massive Open Online Courses are one of the fastest growing trends on the internet these days. Universities, very well-known ones, are jumping on this bandwagon to offer free, not for credit programs with real professors. I attempted to take a programming course through University of Toronto (eh?) in the fall, but I just got way to busy at work to follow through. Herein lies problem one with a MOOC. If the course is not for credit and you are essentially auditing it, then you had better be crazy motivated to complete it. One of the pros of a MOOC for the learner is the certificate of completion. You can add it to your resume and help become more marketable. I am enrolled in a second MOOC this January on Data Analysis. This one is closer to my heart, so I hope I’m motivated to finish it. All in all, I love the idea of a MOOC from a student’s perspective. I am a person who loves to continue my education, regardless of the fact that I have a Master’s + 60. I would love to get my doctorate, but that is for another post another time. The fact that I can learn from excellent professors from universities I would ordinarily not have access to is very exciting.

That was all from a learner’s standpoint. I still cannot wrap my head around what the university gets out of delivering a MOOC. Perhaps I am a cynic and a capitalist, but isn’t the university in the business to bring in revenue to keep their schools open? How does providing MOOCs serve the university? They get their names out there, but in the case of Stanford, their name is already out in the public. Universities become leaders of something new. Perhaps. How do MOOCs generate revenue? That is my take on MOOCs.