For years, graduation from college or university meant nothing to many people. But with online course content getting more and more advanced, many people are seeing graduation opportunities, including the opportunity to earn a Master’s degree online.
What Is Learning Online Called Coursera
When a college teaches a class online, its idea is to fill in the classroom space for the space that the classroom can’t, and offer students a wider palette of educational options. It’s one of the most enjoyable things about having an education online.
Without having to tell a teacher in the flesh, a fellow student’s basic competency can be deduced from the material and the evidence is evidence-based. Learning online looks at how people learn online, what videos work and doesn’t.
It’s hard to wrap my head around the concept of an ‘online degree’, but online courses in the traditional classroom setting are becoming more and more common (disappointingly so). In fact, Coursera which covers a huge variety of subjects, is going global. Meanwhile, MITx, another leading online education site, is expanding in a big way this year.
For a while, a large part of their appeal has been the certification aspect of the online education process. On their site, it says ‘We train the professional workers that build and deploy software’.
What are the drawbacks for faculty?
While I don’t think that Coursera for its concepts alone warrants the license to ‘sell’ education, the vendors offer a reasonably attractive resource to learn. You’re first going to learn something from the videos, go through the exercises and work through the modules. There’s some short-term stuff in there, and it does take some time to accrue the certificate in their ‘open education’ framework (which, despite the official name, isn’t open). But once you do, you can take all kinds of further courses from all over the globe.
The typical class-size is just under ten students with two teachers covering material, which will usually end at the end of the semester.
However, if a student’s individual performance is weak, they’ll almost always receive the intermediate mastery grade (incorrectly described as a ‘minimum score’) on their transcript. For instance, my classmates and I had just the two hours of video from the subject ‘Design & Build Architecture’. The ICD was vaguely ‘high-school-level’, but the instruction was a bit on the rough side. On the flipside, if a student is on track, they will routinely receive a ‘lucid assessment’, which is basically a grade. The worst penalty is if you’re off-track, and the course lacks reskill time to retake or an extra class for those prepared.
The courses are made for dynamic success and failure; the adaptive aspect of Coursera means that it’s highly possible to fail in a course, but continue to graduate with credits. When someone at a university teaches a class online, they only get good grades if the outcomes justify their fee, and they’re only being helped so far. This is a major departure from university teaching, with students being allowed to fail while teaching standards don’t suffer.
What are the main advantage and disadvantage of a Coursera degree?
While having my certificate is a valuable credential, it’s not the only reason to go online. As an admin person at a for-profit university, I’ve seen firsthand the downsides. This isn’t so true of Coursera; you’re being educated for learning tools, and the skills you will learn in the courses will be useful in a real career (note: you can retake classes).
However, having a certificate can get you jobs if you go with the right career path, but that’s not at all the driving factor. The primary concern of the teachers is doing everything they can to give students a great experience. If you’re over the age of 18, you have the option to pay a modest fee to take a class. If you’re over the age of 18, you’re a successful student in the same academic structure as everyone else, with the only exception being your grade.
If you have a major fault, you’re just out of luck. While Coursera might save students from the anxiety and flat feelings of helplessness that await them in the conventional classroom, there’s no guarantee that they’ll get a better grade. And then what? Online classes should be critical thinking, problem solving and adaptability – there’s no reason to think you should have to sit there for six months learning how to read the clock and work out the percentage that will be important when the mother comes for you.
Will they hurt traditional universities?
Not if Coursera is able to earn back their online teaching skills costs through the revenue stream provided by the students that they teach. If universities have no hand in the process, it’s an easy way for the students to ‘graduate’ from the online courses without spending a dime.
I want to start my own business; why?
I can take my online certificate and I’m guaranteed the first two months of every year.