What does MOOC stand for
MOOC websites provide an opportunity both to obtain an academic degree or deepen and sharpen your specialization and get hands-on skills and certificates.
MOOC meaning is "Massive Open Online Course". This acronym literally means an educational course, created by a college, university, company or any other organization, hosted online and available for everybody for free or on a fee basis.
As the majority of online students are adults, who are working professionals and can’t study 8 hours a day, such courses are usually split in short chunks with videos, texts, or presentations, and take no more than 15-30 minutes a day. They also have a clear and comprehensive step-by-step structure.
How much do they cost?
It depends on the platform. Some provide free audit classes with full access to the whole pack of materials but without mentoring and evaluated assignments. Other providers have a subscription system. The third ones sell separate courses or paths with or without a trial period.
Overall, the price may vary from 0 to several thousand dollars, but anyway it will be way cheaper than the cost of a similar on-campus program. MOOCs are an especially good bargain for those, who want to obtain a rather costly degree or specialization, like MBA, Machine Learning, or programming skills.
MOOC benefits and drawbacks
As every phenomenon and notion, online learning has its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s name and define some of them.
- Availability. If you have Internet access and meet other requirements (such as admission fee if there is any), you can complete top-rated courses even from Cambridge or Ivy League universities without any entrance exams and from anywhere.
- Affordability. Even the most expensive MOOCs are much cheaper than their on-campus analogues.
- Great choice. There are MOOCs on every possible topic, including humanities, STEM, self-development, languages, practical workshops, etc.
- Learning at your own pace. Unlike "on-premises" courses, the very definition of MOOC implies that the number of attendees is not limited. Some courses have exact start and end dates, but the majority don’t — especially if you’ve enrolled in a free audit mode and don’t have personal tutoring.
- Academic degree. Some universities accept MOOCs for credits, so you can study what you like even if your institution doesn’t have such a program.
- Offline mode. Some platforms allow downloading all the materials, including videos. This way you can cut them into smaller chunks, arrange them as you like, and rewatch when you need.
- Lack of motivation. MOOC completion rates are quite low. Without strict deadlines and financial investment students tend to give up halfway.
- Lack of academic accreditation. Not all the MOOCs are created or accredited by official universities, some of them give only knowledge, without any documents.
- Paid certificates. Majority of platforms offer audit modes — you can study for free, but if you want to get a completion certificate, you’ll have to pay.
Overall, there are much more benefits than drawbacks. MOOCs are a modern and handy way to boost your career and broaden your horizons.