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The chances are good that there’s a MOOC in your future. MOOC stands for “Massive Open Online Course”, and this technology has been impacting education. Although many or you are currently doing some or all of your learning online, you will find that MOOCs are different from traditional high school or college courses.
The hallmarks of MOOCs are reflected in their acronym—the enrollment is huge, they are open to whomever wishes to take part, and generally are free and carry no credit. Because faculty are unable to respond to students in a MOOC, the material must be more engaging and interactive, and fellow students rely on each other to provide support.
Although MOOCs have been around for several years, there has been a huge increase in enrollment in these classes recently. edX, a non-profit MOOC operator from Harvard and MIT, is home to more than 20 million learners, while Coursera, a for-profit venture started by Stanford University professor Andrew Ng, has reached over 75 million students. Many of the most prestigious universities have jumped on the bandwagon, and now offer at least a few of their most popular courses through a MOOC.
The most successful courses use short video lectures followed by a quiz to make sure users understand the material. Many MOOCS require homework and some offer proctored exams. The instructor may be a renowned professor at the University offering the class, but some very successful classes are simply taught by very engaging instructors who make learning the material fun. Study groups (“meetups”) composed of fellow students in a particular area help to ensure that students get more out of the class.
Topics covered in a MOOC tend to center around science, math, computers and business, but course selection is expanding rapidly. For high school students, taking part in a MOOC can help you learn about a subject of interest that is not available at your school or in your area. Check out the offerings at edX, Coursera, or Udacity to follow your own passions! Learning isn’t always about the credit!
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