Online learning makes it possible for students to take classes of their choosing from anywhere in the world. This form of learning comes in many different ways.
What Is Mooc Online Learning
It’s a well-known fact that professors use MOOCs for everything from graduate seminars to simple white board writing exercises. But why do people at all levels need to take these courses?
A simple explanation? Money. Even the president of Oxford University admits that MOOCs were originally devised as a way to “help professors raise money.” And that’s a very good point. Because, in order to help professors raise money, they needed to figure out how to deliver their research more cheaply and more effectively than they ever had before. So they tried to figure out how to get great online lectures out there—to let everyone experience them for free. MOOCs were born.
That’s all well and good, but of course, while everybody at Oxford uses MOOCs, not everybody takes them. So people have to make up their own minds as to whether they’re worth learning—even for those who are even not interested in academics, even if it’s purely as an exercise in laziness or cheap leisure. Or is there another, less personally palatable reason people might want to take MOOCs?
Online learning sometimes comes across as only valuable when individuals have every reason to believe that there is a lack of genuine value in the things they are presently learning. The first question we all need to ask ourselves when we’re given an educational opportunity or offered a program that feels like it will broaden our skills or allow us to advance in our current jobs is: Will this education be useful to me in the future?
It’s here that we encounter the first of many types of online learning and a few fascinating findings.
Business knowledge, for example, is said to be most meaningful online, while higher education usually comes down to a subject “class” and what every teacher is telling people at every stage of the program. Of course, how valuable a topic is doesn’t always depend on the point of the subject, but it certainly depends on your position as a student.
“In many cases, the more-curricular sorts of knowledge are not so valuable online and can be very annoying to study,” says Professor Lindsay Herdley of the University of the North’s School of Media and Communication.
However, Herdley also points out that business and design subjects can provide unique opportunities for individuals to not only look into different approaches to existing work problems, but also consider emerging practices or developments in the industry.
“Broadening your knowledge with this kind of information can provide you with fresh thinking and skills you wouldn’t naturally know how to grasp,” she says.
If we’re coming in with an open mind when we take online courses, we’re suddenly confronted with quite a few big differences with conventional learning. Some of these differences are obvious, like whether we should take class or form our own group to study together. Perhaps just as important is what to expect.
Because online learning isn’t very common in higher education, it’s likely that we know a few misconceptions about how it all works.
“When you’re learning through an online course, it’s very easy to assume that the teacher knows what’s going on and you know how to get the most from it,” says Jay Nash, a blog editor and the director of online learning and curriculum for Hillel Executive Education.
“But you’re not. Your assignment is kind of like a brushwork of the teacher’s paintbrush, you’re kind of an eye, you’re hoping to be the one actually seeing the information,” he adds.
So, while we might be eager to find out what the instructors are going to say next, we’re more likely to find out that their discussions aren’t that interesting or our ability to accurately represent what we’ve learned is actually quite poor. Even if we take the courses and are grateful for the access, we soon realize that the instructors are a very different breed—perhaps a version of ourselves we don’t particularly want to be represented online.
What Do Students Think?
“Obviously, there are advantages to taking one of these courses over taking an easier course. What I did notice with online courses is that they sometimes include things you don’t learn in other things. In some cases, an online course is perfect for something that may not be as useful in the classroom, like collaboration, problem solving, or working with others,” says Marcus Wingerter.
So should you ignore the pros and cons of online learning?
No. There are certainly pros and cons, but honestly, there’s really no clear “right” answer to that question.