Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Online Courses Make College Level Learning More Convenient

The free online classes, also known as MOOC or massive open online classes, are becoming the new rage for many individuals. Millions of people have signed up for these courses throughout the past year and many schools such as Rutgers University are scrambling to determine whether or not they can successfully get in on the new wave that may be a promise to completely transform higher education as a whole. There are many people who feel that the potential to broaden the access to these types of course may negate the escalating costs of colleges, though most schools are viewing the courses as a great marketing opportunity for them as a whole.

However, the completion rates of these courses are fairly low and educators are beginning to wonder just how much people are even able to learn from the course itself. Many are trying to determine if MOOCs are even worthy of providing college credit – which for reference, they usually don't. Some people believe that this form of distance education is the next new thing within academics, while many believe it will just fizzle out completely because it's not organized enough.

Rutgers University agreed to give millions of people access to its courses through the use of a site called Coursera, which is now one of the largest names within the massive course market. It was started last year by two science professors from Stanford University and has already surpassed the amount of 2.8 million enrollments. The company offers free courses from some of the most prestigious and reliable schools, such as Princeton and universities from Pennsylvania. Tens and thousands of people typically begin to sign up for these courses, which are taught through video lectures and discussions, as well as reading assignments. The formats of the course differ depending on the subject of the course itself, though generally students are allowed to participate through message boards and other online discussion forums and tools provided by the professor. Essays and tests are graded by other people who are participating within the class itself.

Peer grading is supported by the providers, even for the majority of the essays. The instructions are said to be clear enough for people to ensure quality control on a new level – however, some courses even have their tests proctored by the use of webcams. Most of the teaching methods are considered to be experimental and many of the professors are viewed as trying to figure out which methods will work the best in a new niche that may take over the educational world. As a whole, one advantage is that students can rewind lectures and usually get instant feedback on whether or not they have correctly figured out the core concepts of the class, which is a great study option for those who would be generally having problems with more difficult courses. Though there is some opposition to online courses, the benefits for students far outreaches the oppositions standings.

Author: Mollie
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