MOOCs are everywhere. Newspapers, radio shows, social networks, blogs and even TV news are all talking about them. They say it’s a technological revolution, an innovation, a new educational method. Everyone is raving about them, but how do they improve our way of teaching? They show the bright visible top of the iceberg, but are there parts that they are hiding from us?

By the way, MOOC means “Massive Open Online Course”. The idea is actually very simple: teachers create lessons that take place at a specific time just like a standard learning course, except the lesson occurs online and not in a classroom. Once the first lesson is aired, learners can go back if they wish to review it. Students sign up for a MOOC in the same way they register for a university class and take online training courses every week during the semester.  A MOOC can gather a lot more learners for a lesson online than in a lecture hall. While taking these courses, students use videos, forums, MCQs, Internet resources, and social networks. Tools that most of us use every day. All in all, nothing very innovative!

There are many activities included in this training method; however, it doesn’t seem any different from blended learning used by companies or training centers. Here, it is adapted to higher learning, which is getting up to speed in offering online distance training. In 1950, Australians were already offering distance training courses with “School of the Air”, lessons by radio for kids living more than 1,000km away from school. As for companies, it has been offering online training for employees for over 20 years. A company can create and post its own MOOCs online. E-learning software publishers have been providing this type of service to companies for a long time via LCMS software for creating content and LMS platforms for publishing training courses.

Is MOOC a new type of media in order to hide that fact that our universities are behind in online training? 

Universities have been controlling and managing their own digital workplaces for over many years; however, these intranets focus on training methods and not learning content. Universities and prestige colleges have some catching up to do when it comes to e-learning. Creating a training platform will guarantee quality lessons and learning methods by monitoring and formalizing training information. This is a great advantage; however, don’t forget that you must pay for every diploma or certification given by a MOOC. 

The concept of a MOOC is very large and focuses on spreading the most knowledge to the public as possible by imposing the final objective: the diploma! So what are the goals set by MOOCs? Spreading knowledge or imposing approving the largest number of diplomas?

Time is up for thinking about MOOCs, SPOCs (Small Private Online Classes) are already here! 

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