We can notice the rapid development of MOOCs (massive open online courses). Why are people choosing this approach more often than individual online tutoring?
Individual online tutoring might enrich student’s overall knowledge, but will never lead to good communication skills. Traditional education’s goal is to develop both verbal and written communication. Except for memorizing basic grammar, spelling and punctuation rules, the students receive various teamwork tasks in order to become more social. Such practices are implemented to prepare them for potential future business negotiations. A personal tutor won’t replace a group of peers. A student has to experience chattering with different people to find as many approaches as possible. Living among people is about surviving.
So, is there a method as effective as classroom learning? Yes, and it often goes hand in hand with in-class learning. Distance learning platforms that some universities provide are as efficient instruments as regular classes, experts believe. I’ll tell you more: distance courses are meant to be the vehicle of education’s demise. But blending them would still be more beneficial.
One of those experts is Anant Agarwal, IT and engineering prof at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He first launched MOOC concept in 2011. Since then, a lot of things changed. He willingly shares the surprising statistics: 150,000 from more than 160 countries received the opportunity of gaining valuable knowledge from the certified professionals without living their home. The sheer number of students passed the test course with above average rates. Anant personally managed to teach more than 7,000 students online just in one year. He claims that it takes about forty years for one instructor to release that many graduates. Such learning destinations can be nonprofit for the students already accepted to higher places of education. The results of web education are proved by numbers. Anant Agarwal alone today is able to mentor 2.5 million students via his online venture.
If you’re running out of money, but the desire to learn is that big, you can take particular courses for free. Unfortunately, not everyone is so generous like Agarwall is. Most of the time you might face a rip-off, but private universities and colleges offer far more costly services. On the whole, the opportunity to gain free online education appeared not long ago: since 2011.
Among the top online learning sites we can name CourseRa, edX, which is intensely discussed in this article), Harvard special platform, Academic Earth and more. As far the concept is rather new, more sites are on its development stage.
What is more important, brick-and-mortar universities do not suffer. The students have a unique chance to mix traditional classes with virtual education. So, massive online courses do not steal customer base from the existing institutions. Besides, they suit grown-ups as well.
Distance courses offer much more than regular classes. Online educational platforms extended the list of traditional subjects impressively. Now, every student can cover the topic he’s keen on in more details. Instead of listening to one lecture on Ancient Greek Heroes as a part of his History class, he can choose “The Ancient Greek Hero” complete course by MOOCs. These free platforms were created by Harvard enthusiasts. That’s why a student can be sure in the professional level of all tutors. You can evaluate it as another promotional strategy, but most people consider it as a charity act. As Barack Obama noticed, education is number one thing to be stressed today.
The core problem of massive online courses for free is that the absence of charge keeps students too much relaxed. As the result, 90% of them don’t intend to finish the course. Some may start and quit immediately due to the lack of motivation or time. That’s why involving a fee, and solid certificates might be a way out.
At first, flesh-and-blood teachers feared they would be replaced by robots. But, as philosophy faculty admits, there is a lot more to be discussed within this class. It’s impossible to cover all the material, so MOOC in philosophy is very useful. From their words, it comes as a serious compromise of quality of education.
One more cutting-edge that may profoundly influence the student’s decision to enter online course is the fact of rapid admission competition growth. The tests and essays become more complex and confusing. The only bail of being accepted is coping with these challenges at the highest level. Even those students who achieve excellent scores fight to enter the institution of their choice. Meanwhile, online courses are created for all students. Basically, all you need to study today is a computer with all-time available Internet access.
On the other hand, it is obvious that living instructors can not check 2,5 million works. That’s why a unified ORA (Open Resource Assessment) was developed. There is no guarantee a system will check the assignment better than a real teacher, but otherwise it would take an incredible portion of time. The system is still able to give meaningful comments and advices on how to improve the knowledge of a particular subject.
Another significant disadvantage is the lack of practice. It’s impossible to conduct some experiments or researches without direct help and classmates support. This problem is essential for Science classes (chemistry, physics, biology). The developers of MOOC concept are working actively to solve this issue.
So, each day more options to study appear. The best approach to the educational process is to combine traditional in-class methods in order to gain communication experience and modern innovations in the shape of online learning. Online courses are recommended to students who focus more on humanitarian disciplines while precise sciences need more practice.
To sum up, let’s put all of the pros into one short list:
- Availability. Any student can afford top university education now without leaving the house. Even YouTube suggests courses from such giants as Berkeley or Harvard. The overhead is reduced in comparison to brick-and-mortar analogs.
- Accessibility. Regardless student’s financial or social status, his GDP and skills gained, he is welcome to join the online class anytime, anywhere.
- Variety: edX offers 17 online courses. In addition, a student can pick more from its competitors. The courses include more than standardized subject list. The student can select a narrower topic rather than studying general economics or business.
- Employment opportunities. Modern employers tend to hire candidates with solid IT background and experience as far as a virtual world today brings higher profits.