Are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC's) Changing Education?
The idea of using the collective intelligence of a community or group of people to solve a problem isn't anything new. Much like the massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG's) work in gaming, massive open online courses (MOOC's) works for education. While the movement is still relatively new and hard to measure, the New York Times did just report that the standard for course completion is a balmy 10%, with 20% being "a wild success" according to the article.
With education, it can be argued like this CNN article does, Online Courses Need Human Element to Educate, and that the experience of classroom learning can't be replicated online. But what can't be argued are the numbers, and according to a survey earlier this month by the Babson Survey Research Group, more than 6.7 million people take at least one online course. As for what classes are being taken, and for what end remains a mystery, at least from the Babson study.
With the rapid pace of technology advancing movements like MOOC's, it's still up in the air as to what the best way to tie-in the real-world interactions, and intimacy that many see as pre-requisites for widespread adoption, particularly with major universities.
Some, like Mediabistro, strive for a different kind of online intimacy according to this article on MOOC's and Education on National Public Radio site WNYC. Carmen Scheidel, head of online education at Mediabistro, echoes the inability of MOOC's to replicate classroom atmosphere, "One of the things that is been yet to be determined with MOOC's is how to create intimacy. So if you have tens of thousands of people learning a subject together, that's exciting and perhaps a social movement, but how do you create one-on-one feedback?"
Their approach was to create courses for a limited number of people, and in addition to having huge online classes, also require smaller groups to work on real projects and get coaching from mentors. The recent offerings from Google, including Google+ Hangouts, Screencast and ProProfs Training Maker are making it possible to create a different kind of intimacy online.Continued on the next page