If you are like most people, the title of this post seems to be written in code. If so, then at least you’re on the right track––code has something to do with it. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and it is an acronym your children will likely take for granted if current MOOC trends reflect anything about the future.
Back in early February 2012, I wrote a post on this blogroll about an interesting online class taught by a professor at Stanford University and a director of research at Google. I wondered aloud if this might change the business of education forever. In 2011, the two gentlemen, Prof. Sebastian Thrun and Mr. Peter Norvig, offered free and open access to a course called Introduction to Artificial Intelligence to anyone with an internet connection and interest in the topic.
The free online version ran in tandem with the tuition-supported version taking place on Stanford’s campus, and the videos (often shots of Prof. Thrun hand-writing calculations with a pen and paper while narrating his actions) were translated into over forty different languages.
Although students tapping into the course for no out-of-pocket cost would get no credit toward a diploma from Stanford, they would receive a grade based on their relative performance to all participants (including the Stanford students) and a certificate of completion from the professors. Enrollments went from over two hundred students to one hundred sixty thousand in less than a year. After leaving Stanford and Google, they targeted five hundred thousand in a single class on how to build a search engine. This class was offered through their newly founded venture, Udacity.
Jump forward two years. US News & World Report recently published an article in their education section titled Weigh Trying a MOOC Before an MBA. Business Insider published an article days later called One Woman is Getting an Elite Online MBA for under $1000. In another article, published within the same ten-day timeframe in a regional commerce magazine, the author wonders Does an MBA Make Sense for a Small Biz Owner and offers MOOCs as a viable alternative.
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