MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) are really taking off at the moment. It has yet to be proven as a business model, and it is still in its early stages of proving its usefulness, but it does seem to hold large potential. It currently seems to be in the phase of testing out what works and what doesn’t.
From the origins of computer science-based courses we see at EdX, now Coursera and Udacity are adding new types of courses. I’ve signed up for courses at all of them to test them out, and will report back as they proceed with pros and cons.
In the last couple of days, two new courses have appeared that are likely to be able to change the perception of what topics work for a MOOC. Coursera started a piano class on Beethoven’s sonatas today, which has 32,000 registered students! Also today, new provider Instructure is offering a class based on hit TV show Walking Dead. These kinds of high- and low brow MOOCs have the potential to significantly broaden their appeal and reach.
The traditional universities are struggling to keep up. Georgia Tech is testing ways to couple online, paid-for education that results in a proper degree, with the size of MOOCs. Slate describes more here. The Ivy League schools are still torn as to whether it’s better for their brand not to offer any online content, or whether they would benefit from leveraging the brand on the Internet. Harvard is testing the waters by making a few courses available on EdX.
The only thing that is clear so far is that we will see a huge amount of experimentation in the years to come, which can only be good news to all us knowledge-hackers out there.Photo credits: University of Maryland Press Releases, Wikipedia