Emergence of Massive Open Online Courses

We’ve been discussing the importance of the self-education revolution, with the emergence of free college courses allowing people all over the world to educate themselves. As more universities and start-ups put more college level courses online for free, the media is paying more attention to this trend.

USA Today recently discussed this revolution in a recent article on Massive Open Online Courses:

Jonathan Salovitz’s course load sounds as grueling as any college undergraduate’s: computer science, poetry, history, math and mythology, taught by professors at big-name schools such as Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.

Except Salovitz, 23, is not an undergraduate. His effort won’t count toward a bachelor’s degree, and he hasn’t paid a dime in tuition. Nor have his classmates, who number in the tens and even hundreds of thousands.

Instead, Salovitz calls himself a “guinea pig.” He’s participating in a grand experiment in higher education known as Massive Open Online Courses –MOOCs, for short. Learners of all ages around the world are flocking to them. Top universities are clamoring to participate. And MOOCs already have attracted the interest of some employers, paving the way for a potential revenue source. All in less than a year.

The articles goes on to describe many of the new courses and companies that are driving the interest here, so it’s definitely worth a read. It also points out how Moody’s Investor Service calls MOOCs a “pivotal development” that has the potential to revolutionize higher education.

Over time, we can expect to see employers start to react. Imagine how impressed you would be interviewing someone who either used these resources to complete a virtual college education, or someone who used it to gain a new skill. Think about a medical professional who decides to go online to get a virtual business or accounting degree.

The possibilities here are endless, and there will be plenty of ways apart from the old grading/diploma system to verify that the student has actually completed the courses and learned the material.

The future in education suddenly looks bright.

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