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What are M-O-O-Cs?

MOOC stands for Massive Online Open Course. Institutions offering these types of courses make the course materials available for open access on the Internet. The course materials include audio podcasts, video lectures, and lecture notes.

These courses were initially started to give a fair chance to everyone. Students who cannot afford the time or money to study may benefit as most of the courses are available for free and can be pursued from home. There is a common myth that if something is cheap, it is of low quality. However, this is not applicable for MOOCs since most of the institutes offering such courses are among the top educational institutes in the world.

There are some differences between the courses offered. Initially, the courses were devoted to self-assessment alone. They were meant purely for gaining knowledge and they did not offer any certification. Today, there are many courses which offer various types of certifications based on online assessments. The certification may be free or require a small charge. For example, some courses offered by edX have three types of certificates: honor code, verified, or XSeries, and the charges depend upon the type of certification.

Courses can be classified into two categories, on demand courses and scheduled courses. Scheduled courses are similar to regular college courses. They have a fixed time period of study while on demand courses can be started and completed according to your preferences.

In both situations, students can also discuss with their peers and mentors through dedicated online forums. Assignments and homework can be communicated via these forums and they act as a platform between the professor and the students. These courses allow unlimited participation, which would mean larger people studying in the course. However, the completion rates of these courses are very low. Unlike regular courses, MOOCs need a lot of self-discipline and self-introspection.

 

* Image Courtesy MOOC Poster (no border) by Mathieu Plourde licensed under CC BY 2.0

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