Nowadays, nearly half of the undergraduate students in the United States come to college grounds for counteractive work before the start of their standard credit-bearing classes. In course of time, the prospective of free online college
classes have bewildered the educators, and they are now emerging with the promise of harnessing online materials to deal with the toughest challenges in American higher education.
To add to the energy, the decreasing state budgets have impelled in collecting an enormous fee at public institutions and reducing the number of seats in classes available for graduate students. Nevertheless, in this circumstance, the online materials have served as a boon as these have been able to impart help to majority of students in making an entrance to college and earn a graduate degree in time. For addressing the dual problems and helping students in graduation, universities have began experimenting by the addition of the new “massive open online courses” or MOOC for the purpose of delivering the most excellent college teaching to anyone with an Internet connection at free cost that once happened to be within the means of only an inadequate number of campus students at an elevated cost. Furthermore, these massive open online courses, or MOOCs, also seem to play a role in harnessing the power of their huge enrollments for imparting education in new methods, applying crowd-sourcing proficiency for online discussion forum and grading simultaneously with the chance in utilizing the skills of professors for the usage of online lectures and setting aside on-campus class time for interacting with students.
MOOCs thus, stand apart from earlier online learning programs in their distinct, open, social nature.
Simultaneously, other approaches to online courses have started to gain grounds as well. New ventures like Udemy take the opportunity in helping individual professors to submit their courses online. The input of $30 million has been made by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the formation of edX. Another Stanford development, Udacity, had the opportunity to grab the attention of more than a million students to its massive open online courses, or MOOCs, with $15 million in financing. In less than a year time, Coursera, an online education company has attracted $22 million in business enterprise capital and has created such tremendous blast that some universities seem to be a little doubtful about not stepping onto the bandwagon.
Expansion of MOOC
MOOCs first came into the focal point last year, when a Stanford professor, Sebastian Thrun, presented a free artificial-intelligence course, which took a venture to attract 160,000 students in 190 nations. The extensive promotional storm galvanized best research universities all over the country for provision of open higher education to each and everyone, possibly with the hope of making money in due course of time.
Mohammad Oayoumi, President at San Jose State University said that in Silicon Valley they inhale the air which promotes entrepreneurship, and therefore, it sounds true that they are the first university to try this open online course. He further added that it is right that in academia, people are scared of failure, but they are aware of the fact that innovation always moves forward with the possible chance of failure. If it does not seem to work right for the first time, they will try to find out the fault in the process and perform better the next time.
San Jose State University has been able to achieve a considerable success with online materials from edX, a nonprofit online provider in its circuit’s course. Generally, two in every five students earn a grade below C and must retake the course or change career schedules. Therefore, in last spring, Ellen Junn, the provost, met Anant Agarwal, who happens to be an M.I.T. Professor and has trained a free online version of the circuit’s class, for getting the consent whether San Jose State University could become a living lab for his course - the first contribution from edX, an online collaboration of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In one pilot project, the University is working with Udacity, a company which was co-founded by a Stanford Professor, for the purpose of observing whether in 24 hours time, online mentors that are hired and trained by the company, can render help to maximum number of students for making their way through three completely online fundamental math courses.
The earliest MOOCs were concentrated in subjects suited to computer grading like computer science and engineering. This crowd-sourcing edition of college is now slowly paving its way into every corner of the academic world. There are courses on modern American poetry, health care policy and the Affordable Care Act, and Introduction of Improvisation. Professor Duneier, a professor at Princeton is one of the pioneers in presenting humanities courses, in which the whole grading process, commencing from essays to exams is operated by the students by means of grading criteria that has been considered by the professor.
The curve of free online course evolution has demonstrated a radical change, with the potential to take a new drift to higher education in innumerable ways, commencing from professor in a lecture hall to online instructor of tens of thousands. Professors take the pleasure in reaching more number of students worldwide in one course than they could have done within a life span. Dr. Ezekiel presents a postcard from a student in Sri Lanka. Likewise, the poetry professor, Al Filreis speaks of an 81-year-old Greek shut inside the house, and has been capable to get 180 responses to his essay on Emily Dickinson. Similarly, there are also stories of elderly students getting the opportunity to do their homework together at their assisted-living facility and Capitol Hill staff members managing to take the health policy course.
State of the art of MOOC
The professors involved in the online courses face new challenges. Professor Duneier, a professor at Princeton spoke of his truly daunting experience in the beginning when he had to give the lectures with no live audience, with no sense of who were listening and their mode of reaction. He further added that he talks about things like racial differences in I.Q., Abu Ghraib and community bathrooms, and was extremely alarmed that his lectures might come across as examples of American ethnocentrism.
Most MOOCs package their lessons in small segments, with set in quiz questions for the purpose of keeping the viewer engaged, and make available immediate feedback. The online discussion forum had the opportunity to initiate many global exchanges. Professor Duneier took the opportunity to discuss about social norms, citing of the lack of public restrooms for street vendors as an example, including an embedded video of New York vendors. It would be worthwhile to mention that students belonging from Hong Kong, India, Russia and in another place commented on similar situation in their own cities.
While the MOOCs courses have made it possible for enrollment of millions of students around the world, majority of the students who enroll never begin a single assignment, and a handful of them only seem to complete the courses. Therefore, in order to communicate with students who are not yet ready to start college-level work, or seem to be under pressure with preliminary courses, Universities are starting to provide additional supports to the online materials, with the hope of improving the achievement rates.
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