What are MOOCs?

The digital age has redefined many different aspects of what it means to be human. One of those areas is education, with the advent of online classes and online degrees. A specific type of online class is the MOOC, and it is a really interesting concept. No, MOOCs are not a goofy name you use disparagingly with your friends. Rather, they are well-respected and often very popular forms of online education. Let’s take a few minutes to learn what a MOOC is and how it can be beneficial to users (like you!).

What is a MOOC?

MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses which hope to have large amounts of participation and reinvent the way we think about further education. Taking these courses generally is much cheaper than attending brick and mortar campuses, and can often be free if they do not offer certifications. For those people who wish to learn for the sake of learning, these are the sort of courses they have been looking for. For those who want to acquire an accreditation or certificate for their newly learned skills, they will often find that MOOCs are an affordable alternative to universities and other traditional forms of learning.

Just because MOOCs are not based on brick and mortar campuses and are usually less expensive does not mean that they necessarily suffer from a lower quality of education. Many well-renowned schools offer MOOCs of their own for public participation. Stanford, MIT, University College London, and other prestigious schools all offer MOOCs. The main goal of MOOCs is clear, though: to shake up academia and open access to knowledge for everyone with an internet connection.

While there are a plethora of platforms where MOOCs can live including proprietary school websites, most people will probably be familiar with the site Coursera. On sites like Coursera, hundreds of MOOCs from different sources are available to users. Non-certificate courses are completely free, and certificate courses are reasonably priced.

Why are MOOCs Important?

Everything that digital technology touches is irreversibly altered. MOOCs and other forms of online classes have the potential to help educate the entirety of the world. Much like how Bitcoin and the blockchain empower people worldwide to be their own banks and free themselves from centralized institutions, MOOCs and other open learning courses are helping individuals learn valuable skills and gain useful knowledge in more decentralized settings. Indeed, there are even entire MOOCs devoted to teaching people about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

While brick and mortar campuses will always be bastions of knowledge, they are not for everyone and higher learning need not be limited within their walls alone. We are witnessing the beginning of the educational revolution where everyone with internet access can have similar academic opportunities to those attending physical schools. Additionally, MOOCs offer things that other forms of education cannot, like flexible class schedules and remote learning.

Decentralization and the digital age are some of the most disruptive forces changing the status quo for the better. MOOCs are just another example of how decentralization can empower people on a global scale.