Many different traditional universities are offering classes online now through Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). It’s a very noble quest – these universities are globally providing free access to their classes, professors and course content. Quite simply, this is really a great deal for certain students. Some very prestigious universities, such as Harvard, Stanford, Vanderbilt and MIT have chartered the pathway for an open learning environment, for certain subjects.
These courses are a great opportunity to learn about a subject that interests you – thought-provoking subjects like ancient Greek mythology, game theory or the business of sports. Top notch professors – some of the best in their fields – provide videos for you to learn for free. Generally, these also are excellent for those that would like a refresher in a certain subject, or simply would like to learn more about an unknown area.
But, there’s a catch – unfortunately, these courses do not currently provide credit and will not count toward a degree. Accreditation is critical to proving that you’ve attained a certain degree, which these courses do not provide. Also, many of these courses are abridged in nature, and do not provide full access to an entire curriculum – often they’re shortened to a 6-8 week period, rather than a full semester course.
Also, while there are significant collaboration tools available, lower accountability leads to significant classroom retention issues for students. Quite simply for some classes, many students do not finish. Many find that they would like to know more about certain subjects, but don’t have the time or energy to complete the course. Others feel that MOOCs are chaotic and demands significant time and effort from participants.
So, online, non-credit classes are a resource for some to learn about many different subjects. Great companies, such as Udacity, Coursera and edX are available to coordinate courses from top universities.