MOOC—A Free and Very Cool Approach to Online Learning
For those not familiar with the term MOOC, it stands for massive open online course. You may have heard that many of our country’s most prestigious universities are offering many or all of their courses free online to anyone who wishes to attend virtually. MOOC-type technologies are the primary delivery mechanism for these types of classes. With the exception of teacher and student interaction, the classes are very worthwhile.
As a personal example of how MOOC classes can help you professionally, a few months ago I wanted to learn more about gamification. My company markets an eLearning platform for independent training firms, and I wanted to add game-like functionality to its list of features. As part of our research on the gamification topic, I found an online MOOC-based class at Coursera given by Kevin Werbach, a well-known professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
The class was great and was a key contributor to my understanding of gamification. The knowledge gained in this class was of great value to me when deciding which software features to add to our eLearning platform—and it was free! I didn’t get college credit for having taken it, but if I were willing to do the homework and properly participate with my classmates, I could have received a certificate of participation.
Because of the time constraints related to my business commitments, I didn’t have time to do the homework or student participation. However, I did watch all of the videos—sometimes twice—and took copious notes.
I truly wish I had had the time to do the homework and suggested student participation. If I had, it not only would have deepened my understanding of the topic, but it would have also provided me the opportunity to network online with other like-minded students and professional colleagues.
These courses are available on, it seems, every topic under the sun. If it’s not available yet, the way things are going, it may be offered soon. It’s wonderful that so many universities and faculties are willing to provide MOOC-based classes.
The reason that I’m writing to you about MOOC is threefold. First, MOOC classes are an incredible free resource for you to use to expand your business knowledge or simply to learn more about an area of personal interest. Second, as a technologist you should know about megatrends within the technology industry. Yes, this can certainly be considered an academic megatrend, and it is. That said, MOOC requires some high-powered and innovative technology to make it work.
Third, I truly believe in the value of life-long learning and wanted to tell you about an incredible way to do it.