When last we met, we talked about the alphabet soup of acronyms the online learning community must spoon through in order to find the right materials. Well, here’s another one for you: “MOOC”; it stands for “Massive Open Online Courses” and it’s time to explain what the difference is between MOOC and LMS.
Many prestigious American universities are attempting to ignore the growing trend towards online learning by disseminating lectures as MOOCs. While we’re all for listening to esteemed professors from the likes of Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and other big names in academia lecture til the cows come home, we have to ask: is listening to a random lecture really teaching us anything? Sure, many of us are excited to watch for free what students have to shell out thousands of dollars for, but how effective, from a learning perspective, are these online lecture series?
Students of these institutions are able to take advantage of MOOCs because they provide an opportunity to re-examine material one might have missed (or fallen asleep during) while sitting in the cavernous lecture hall. Interested individuals are happy to access these lectures online at their convenience. For me, this is the modern-day equivalent of coming home and finding my retired dad happily sitting in his recliner reading my college textbooks. We might be getting the information, but are we really learning anything?
Many academic pundits are lauding MOOCs as the solution to the “sticker shock” of a university education. The problem is, you are taking the time to view all this material, but what are you getting at the end? MOOCs are not the panacea for a cheap degree, nor do they provide any testing to ensure that the viewer is actually learning anything from the material. In fact, many in the academic community compare watching MOOCs to going to the library, rather than going to school.
While it’s true that you can learn a lot by visiting your local library, you cannot put that time spent poring over the stacks on your resumé as an academic accomplishment. Watching endless hours of MOOCs does not equal a college degree. An online education that gives students all the benefits of a classroom, and then some, can get you a job. Sitting around watching university lectures between the latest music videos on YouTube can ultimately be a waste of valuable time.
Remember this: MOOCs are great if you don’t have any pressing educational or professional goals you want to achieve. An LMS will provide education, training and the necessary testing to ensure that you are actually learning.
Take a look at Coggno.com to get an idea of what online learning can do for you.