A relatively recent explosion of online learning, brought about by the constantly revolutionised technological industry, is a challenge to the business model and foundation of universities and colleges all over the world. Many of the online learning avenues are free of cost, which means that knowledge that was once imparted to a lucky few admitted to any of the prestigious colleges is now awarded and released to literally almost anyone with a smartphone or a tablet.
The ever-increasing cost of tuition at high-end universities may possibly be challenged by these Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs as they are called. The gradient increase in the demand for education will be spurred even further by the not-for-profit organisations offering MOOCs, whereas their brick and mortar established counterparts face a challenging task as to gaining prospective students. These digitally delivered courses, which teach students using the internet or mobile apps have many advantages.
The biggest advantage that these MOOCs have to offer is the freedom of time and schedule, as compared to the need created by universities for students to be taught at set times and places. For anyone with an Apple device, the app named iTunes U has enabled this kind of distance learning by providing online courses from prestigious universities in the United States.
In addition to the proliferation of avenues to avail of online learning, start-ups such as KhanAcademy, a not-for-profit organization created by Salman Khan; Coursera, a for-profit educational technology founded by Stanford University computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller; EdX, a not-for-profit enterprise with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University as founding partners and the likes of those are paving their way in the educational reform brought about by this variation of distance learning.
Having stated that, these online courses also have their pitfalls. The complexity of some convoluted courses may not be as easily perceived through a pre-defined and pre-structured course across the internet, as compared to an experienced human teaching and answering any queries in person. As a counter-argument to this, what Salman Khan, founder of KhanAcademy, in his TED talk in 2011, said can be considered viable: people have the freedom of pausing and repeating the content offered as many times as they want without having to go through any emotional barrier.
MOOCs, as with any brick and mortar university, come with their pros and cons, but the very existence of highly valued education offered free across the internet has posed an interesting question to those universities: will these MOOCs be induced in the universities’ course structure or will they have an individual identity?Publisher: Fadiyah Sameh