Archive for November, 2012

MOOCs are here to stay

November 19th, 2012
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ThinkTech Hawaii

MOOCs (massive online open courses) are going to change higher education and for that matter pubic education around the world.

At least three MOOCs companies have been started in the past five years to offer online courses where students can take the courses for a “certification.” The field is just starting; the opportunities are huge.

Online education is clearly the wave of the future. Once you create a decent course it doesn’t require much to deliver it to thousands or millions of people.

Although brick and mortar education is expensive, MOOCs don’t cost much at all. They democratize education, and provide huge personal leverage for the disadvantaged. Anyone can learn anything.

Now the issue is whether colleges should include those courses for credit. It seems clear that many if not most colleges will ultimately do that. There’s money in it. All you need to do is provide a proctor for the exam.

But this raises the question of whether we really need to limit these courses for credit. No. The idea is to educate people. Must we really have grades? Why not just leave them out there for the public.

Lynda.com teaches software by a series of movies. Click on an element in the course outline and you get to see a 3-minute movie, easy to learn from.

You can take them piecemeal if you like and when you’re done you’ll have a good understanding of the software. Later you can use the outline as a reference. It’s a great model, worth emulating.

Which courses should we reserve for brick and mortar schools and which ones for online? The online universities are proliferating, starting with Phoenix and now hundreds of others worldwide.

If you give a man a fish he can eat, but if you give him a hook he can catch his own fish. Same here. If you give a student the power of learning anything he wants anytime, he can create his own education.

Things are changing. Do I need to go to Harvard or Yale for a great education or will there come a time when I can get one with great MOOCs online. But how can I prove it without having a big degree?

Not impossible. In time, the certifications will become more sophisticated, and techniques will be developed to allow a MOOCs-trained student to show his stuff.

We’re in a new place. The fruit of this tree will be more and more low hanging, and it’s important that Hawaii get in on it, by taking advantage of the courses and maybe even by developing them. Geography is not an obstacle.

What greater gift than lifelong education, cheap. What greater gratification than teaching the world, from Hawaii.

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