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Heard of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)?

Ever wanted to study under the best faculty the world has to offer, from Harvard to MIT? But time, distance and cost have been a hulk sized barrier in front of you. The answers to all your problems is MOOC.

Massive open online courses(MOOC) have gained prominence all over the world. Universities of Europe, India, Asia, Latin America, Middle East and America are offering courses online for free. These courses often have videos in which the lecturers, teachers, teacher assistants(TA’s) and professors feature along with guests. The emergence of MOOCs is a very natural progression, since the digital/virtual world has permeated every aspect of an individual’s life.

This service allows students and those interested in various subjects to explore new avenues as well as supplement one’s formal curriculum. Though people are skeptical about digital learning, I personally believe if one is truly interested then the dedication that one puts will be high, leading to actual learning. It is true that many enthusiasts sign up for courses but a majority of them fail to complete it as it interferes with their schedule or they are unable to put in the required amount of effort.

I have completed 3 courses from Coursera as of now, and I have definitely benefited from them. The courses had videos of duration 3 minutes- 45 minutes, quizzes, assignments which are peer graded and final tests, the courses are not very demanding but they do differ from university to university and from subject to subject. MOOC’s are a boon for high school students who are confused about which stream to choose and mid level professionals who want to broaden their professional horizon. Courses are offered on humanities, social sciences, technology, mathematics, films, music, sports, arts, engineering, food, nutrition and many others. I remember reading about this Indian student who had completed a course offered by MIT online with a good score he was selected by MIT when he applied, it was definitely an add on that helped his application and consequent selection.

In a competitive world like ours where certificates receive certain level of appreciation successful certificates from reputed universities does add value to the resume.  A social psychology course rewarded a student with an opportunity to meet His Holiness The Dalai Lama, while another was flown to Princeton for a trip, MOOC’s are not going to replace the traditional mode of learning any time soon but they are definitely a good way to increase one’s understanding of a subject. The age group ranges from 8- 70+ and backgrounds differ widely as well. Majority of the enrolled students are from India and other developing countries, though certificates and knowledge from reputed universities is limited to the elite and a lucky few. MOOC’s give  an opportunity to the masses to gain knowledge at minimal costs, if the internet connectivity widens then more people will have access to it. An interesting thing is that some universities offer course on credit basis to their campus students, the signs of MOOC’s development is going to be a positive one for sure.

So this summer take a break and join a course of your choice from either coursera, udacity, edx, open2learning or any other platform. All those IIT crazy individuals can join a course offered by them. Make sure you have decent internet speed, some hours per week to spare, genuine interest in the subject and not just the university’s brand name, and to keep yourself motivated ask your family or friends to join or have study buddies. Learn something new or refresh something you are not thorough in and earn a certificate that you can link to your LinkedIn account and show it off!!Also you will meet new people and make friends of different nationalities.

P.S. For all those skeptics out there who think the learning is passive: be actively interested in the course and participate in the Google hangouts, discussion forums and become part of meetings in your cities.

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