Some of you will remember that Nic and I took an Educational Leadership MOOC (a Massive Open Online Course) last summer through edX. Nic recounted her experience on our TechnoTeachers website and on Innovate My School.
Since then, many people have asked us what we think about MOOCs. Aren’t they going to replace college classrooms, and wouldn’t that be too bad? We know college tuition is painfully expensive, but do we really want to turn the next generation of students into automatons, learning at their computers, but without the valuable sorts of connections you can make at a University? And will the certificates students earn gain the respect of people in various organizations?
The answer seems to be No, No, and Yes. That is, while thinking about these three questions, I came across this article: “What MOOCs Teach Us” in MIT Technology Review (Jan./Feb. 2016). It is based on an interview with Daphne Koller, the cofounder and president of Coursera. She’s in a good position to weigh in, given that Coursera is one of the premier providers of MOOCs, with over 80 top universities and organizations. Here’s what she said.
In a nutshell, research findings about Coursera show that only 15 percent of the people who take courses are college age. The rest are either people who just want to know more about specialized subjects, or they are working adults who want to increase their skillset by taking courses (the latter make up roughly 50 percent of all students). As Koller points out, many people today experience a “skills gap.” Why? “The world around us is changing rapidly, and many of the skills you need today—data science, mobile apps, digital marketing—didn’t even exist a decade ago,” Koller explains. So true! I’m relieved to know there is a name for what I’m experiencing—“a skills gap.” And I suspect that many of you are also learning how to adapt to rapid changes every day.
As for the value of MOOC credentials in the real world, a recent study by RTI International shows that such certificates are gaining respect every day, with 73 percent of hiring managers saying they regard MOOC certificates positively - both for the skills learned, and the tenacity on the part of learners to complete a course.
So, all 21st century learners, what do you think about MOOCs. Are you ready to try taking one in the new year? Were you thinking about something in the educational field—or perhaps one in history or the arts? Write to us on LinkedIn and let us know.
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.