It sounds like a noise a sick cow might make: mooo-k. But what MOOC really stands for is Massive Open Online Course. These free, online college courses have been around for a few years, but they are growing in popularity as more and more colleges offer them. Currently, taking a MOOC is like auditing a college course; in other words, you can’t get credit for it. But that may soon change, as The American Council on Education, an association of university presidents, considers awarding credit for some MOOC’s.
Some colleges already offer credit for MOOC’s if you pay a fee and/or do additional work. But for the majority of MOOC’s, all you need is an internet connection and some free time. Even if you can’t get credit for a class, it’s an opportunity to explore a subject that interests you. This is a great option for high school students who think they may want to pursue a certain major but have no experience with the subject, or for working adults who want to develop new skills. Additionally, MOOC’s enable people everywhere to learn from world-renowned professors at top-notch institutions.
Colleges that have MOOC’s range from Ivy Leagues like Harvard and Princeton to state schools like the University of Florida and the University of Michigan to small liberal arts colleges like Wesleyan and Wellesley. Even foreign colleges have gotten in on the action, including schools in Israel, France, Canada, and Australia.
To offer MOOC’s, colleges partner with a company such as Udacity (udacity.com), Coursera (coursera.org), or edX (edx.org). Courses cover a variety of topics at introductory to advanced levels. With a quick glance at the aforementioned websites, I discovered such classes as Introduction to Computer Science, Aboriginal Worldviews and Education, and Games Without Chance: Combinatorial Game Theory. So, go explore the course catalogs on the different websites and see what interests you!