Online degree programs are now considered worthy alternative to traditional colleges. Gone are the days when eyebrows were raised upon hearing someone has graduated with an online degree. But what’s the future of online education? In this article we aim to provide you with an answer. Have you heard of MOOCs?
MOOC is an abbreviation for Massive Open Online Courses that are offered free of charge by various specialized websites. MOOCs are independent courses which are delivered by professionals teaching at offline or online colleges, right into your monitor.
The biggest attraction point with MOOCs is that you can take these online courses free of charge. Take into consideration that these are not full online degree programs but standalone courses that can give you some extra credit. Some courses will only offer a participation diploma, but that could come in handy at some point too.
There are plenty of specialized MOOC websites, the biggest being Coursera, followed close by Udacity. However, online colleges like the Jones University (the first online university to be accredited in the US back in 1999) also offer MOOCs.
While not offering full online degree options, websites like edX can give you a taste of what you will be learning at top schools like Harvard University, Berkeley or The University of British Columbia. Once you’ve taken one of their free courses you will be able to decide more quickly if you truly want to apply to one of the many online colleges available.
On the other hand, taking MOOCs has another advantage. Maybe you’re thinking of enrolling with one of the many online degree programs out there. Taking a MOOCs before you actually send in your application to your online university of choice, will give you an idea of how online learning works and if it’s best suited for you.
Since MOOCs are free of charge, don’t expect MOOC providers to offer scholarship programs. With a few exceptions. For example, Google set up a partnership with Udacity in order to offer scholarship programs to people interested in learning Android development.
Taking the scholarship programs part out of the equation, MOOCs are a great way to see if you could adapt to the rules and requirements of an online degree.
Like online education, MOOCs come with a series of disadvantages. First off they see a low graduation rate, because it’s so much easier to drop out. There’s no human interaction and support to struggling students might be limited.
But while with MOOCs, you are at risk at ending up in an overcrowded classroom, the online university rarely see its virtual classes full. Unless you’re aiming for a super popular online degree such as business administration.
So there you go, if you’re planning to stay at home and enroll with one of the many online degree programs out there, do yourself a favor and sign up for a MOOC first. The free course doesn’t take more than 1 month to complete and at the end of it, you’ll see if you should be really investing your efforts into online education.