MOOCS AND YOU

An Ivy League education for all

By Pete Helms
Campus Life Editor

College is expensive—there’s no doubt about it. Many American students attend community and preparatory colleges such as Schoolcraft to defer costs and meet their prerequisites in lieu of starting at more expensive universities. But what if you could attend Harvard or MIT for free from the comfort of your own bed? Enter the MOOC: massive open online courses.

MOOCs utilize the reach, speed, and open nature of the Internet to deliver lectures and other college course content to students all over the world—for free. The idea of the MOOC began with Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander in 2008. Since then, MOOCs have exploded, and the “New York Times” dubbed 2012 “year of the MOOC.” EdX, one of the first MOOC organizations formed by collaborators Harvard and MIT, now offers courses from over thirty institutions, including UC Berkeley and the University of Texas, according to their website edx.org. Classes can be audited for free, or students can pay a small fee for an identity-verified completion certificate. Most MOOCs operate like traditional online courses; they have start and end dates, may require homework, and require both commitment and internet access.

The downside to completing a MOOC is that traditional credit isn’t offered for completion. Therefore, one must take weeks to complete a course where no credit is offered, only personal enrichment. Some organizations are attempting to remedy this situation, at least in part. For example, Georgia Tech, in conjunction with Udacity, began offering a masters in computer science for only $7,000, down from a $40,000 price tag according to Forbes. Coursera, an organization that includes, Stanford, Yale, and the University of Michigan, allows you to display your completion certificates when synced with your LinkedIn profile. While MOOCs will most likely not replace traditional degree achievement, they can prepare students to test out of classes and prepare for subjects they know will be difficult if they do choose to take them for credit later on.

Schoolcraft College is currently preparing to give a workshop on MOOCs at the Bradner Library at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20. Presenting are Reference Librarians Wayne Pricer and Vicki Dixon, who are also available to students during regular business hours. Mr. Pricer is especially excited about the opportunities offered by MOOCs, and says they are “cool for people who are thinking about going back to school” or testing out the waters for a class they will have to take in the future. He also mentioned the evolution of distance learning, noting how it was achieved using short-wave radio and video transmissions before the advent of the Internet, and how things have changed to become more flexible and interactive. “It started out in places like Canada and Austrailia, and now it’s everywhere,” Pricer said. He also mentioned that students and faculty could access a variety of MOOC resources through the Schoolcraft Library website using the “faculty professional development” link. Following the “MOOC Resources” link will lead you to Schoolcraft’s collection of MOOCs and related open-source learning tools, all of which were reviewed by library staff.

STUDENTS SHOULD LOOK FORWARD TO TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED BY MOOCS. THE FRIENDLY STAFF AT THE BRADNER LIBRARY IS ALWAYS ON-HAND TO ASSIST STUDENTS IN NAVIGATING THE MYRIAD OF RESOURCES OFFERED BOTH ON-SITE AND ONLINE. STOP BY AND LEARN SOMETHING NEW!

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