Learning for the sake of knowledge

University courses provide knowledge but not credit

Did you hear?

You can now take free courses from universities like UBC, Toronto, and even Harvard through this crazy new thing called MOOCs (pronounced very much like a cow’s calls, ending with a hard-c). MOOCs stands for Massive Open Online Courses.

And, no, there’s no take-this-free-intro-course-and-pay-out-of-the-nose-for-the-real-content-afterwards nonsense. It’s straight up learning. For those with the drive and the stamina to do it on their own.

The common thread for these courses is that they are open — aka “free.” As with anything online, everything thrown against the wall (or the screen) is experimental. Until something sticks.

Currently, there are for-profit MOOC providers (like Coursera at coursera.org) and private providers (like ALISON at alison.com). The for-profit business model is based on funding revenue through certification. Proctored exams. Which is a fancy name for monitored exams, where the student pays for the final certification. But ultimately, the courses are free.

Non-profit providers like edX (edx.org) and MIT OpenCourseWare (ocw.mit.edu) offer online university-level courses at no charge.

The footer at the edX site sums up their offerings nicely.

“EdX offers interactive online classes and MOOCs from the world’s best universities. Online courses from MITx, HarvardX, BerkeleyX, UTx and many other universities. Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more. EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT.”

The open courseware programs are more self-guided. Depending on the course, online resources can include a syllabus, list of readings, assignments, exams and video lectures. As quoted on their About page, Professor Dick K.P. Yue, (MIT School of Engineering) writes, “The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”

Interested in aeronautics and astronautics? Unified Engineering anyone? You’ll find it online at MIT.

According to the Wall Street Journal (“An Early Report Card on Massive Open Online Courses”, Oct 8, 2013), the largest MOOC provider has attracted five million students, and nonprofit provider edX had over 1.3 million students.

The biggest challenge seems to be course completion. The same WSJ article says that there’s a 90 per cent drop-out rate. A more recent article from Bloomberg puts the drop-out rate at a staggering 95 percent (“Harvard, MIT Online Courses Dropped by 95% of Registrants,” by John Lauerman  Jan 21, 2014).

Bottom line here is that if you consider yourself to be one of the few who stands above (or beside or outside of) the crowd, and if you are interested in expanding your current knowledge set, the tools are there for those who want.

We’re in the middle (or perhaps the beginning) of a paradigm shift here. There are whisperings of having people meet a minimum criteria, like a GPA or pre-requisites. If you want to help shape this year-old phenomenon, maybe it’s time to jump in, feet first with full gusto while it’s still free.

Just Posted

Everything you need to know before getting the flu shot

Local pharmacist shares concerns, recommendations before flu season hits

Victoria’s Ultimate Toy Fair bounces back into Pearkes

The family-friendly event runs Oct. 19-20 at Pearkes

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

Victoria feels the pinch at the pump as gas prices jump 18 cents

Gas up to 157.9 cents per litre at some stations

ELECTION 2019: Climates strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Most Read