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Technology advancements paved the rise of new media technologies which help improve online learning practices and impact the traditional higher-education model. One of the most amazing things that technology provided us is the e-distance learning. What started as a free learning classes on televisions and radio in the ‘90s have now evolved to a more open, more interactive, and more varied free classes available and accessible to all. The rise of online-course providers such as Coursera and Udacity, have started to gather up courses from different prestigious universities and made these contents available and accessible online worldwide. This new education format has been catching the attention of both students and academicians worldwide. It has even gained an acronym called MOOCs, short for Massive Open Online Courses. So, what exactly are MOOCs? How do they differ from previous learning experiences?

MOOC, as defined by Oxford, is “a course of study made available over the internet without the charge to a very large number of people: anyone who decides to take a MOOC simply logs on to the website and signs up.” People who engaged in these courses call themselves MOOCers, MOOC students, etc. Others call their classmates MOOCmates or MOOC buddies.

There are tremendous amount of MOOC study platforms and subjects to choose from and this amount increases weekly. The mobility and flexibility of the MOOCs allow students to choose on thousands of explorable courses on the web. These courses have allowed participants to touch larger academic contents in various areas and levels for free. They get the liberty to explore on things they want to learn and do, and pursue various passions. They can create their own track courses. They can test drive a certain field before pursuing them in college or post-graduate schools. They have the freedom to finish the course at their own pace, at their own time, at their own place of convenience. They can study it anyway they want because they have conquered other media tools such as tablets and smartphones.

MOOCs are organized in different manners. Some courses are open, wherein you can just log in anytime, finish it during your free time. Some have predetermined start and end time for those who would want to have more rigid courses. These courses usually have identified the minimum study time required for each week, the number of weeks to complete the course, and the next rerun of the course.

Lectures are arranged differently. Video lectures are broken down into small segments. They are then delivered either weekly or available all-throughout upon the start of the course. The video recording also varies. Some video lectures are recorded in a typical classroom set-up. Some professors interview other key persons who are expert on that particular field to bring more ideas into discussion. Some lectures are more interactive wherein there are in-video quizzes that students can participate within the video lecture. Some courses are interview-based, where they ask different people and leave the question hanging for you to think about at the end of the course. Some courses are activity-based, wherein the focus is on the activities and assignments you need to submit. In activity based, the course contents are few, but has more engaging activities for you to understand more the topic on your own.

For grading and evaluation purposes, MOOC courses have exams and peer evaluation. Some MOOC courses allows you to have multiple attempts in an exam. The exam includes multiple choice exam like  “select all that apply”, “True or False” or a combination of both. They also have peer evaluation. This is very crucial as it gives you a fresher look through other people’s perspectives. You get to see also how they would answer the question.

In the event that the video lectures do not suffice the level of understanding you need for certain topics, or it did not answer your questions in mind, they have arranged discussion forums where students can engage in. They ask their questions, discuss their viewpoints, share some lectures and other course materials that they think would really fit in the topic. Some students utilize that for linkages and networking especially those who are in the entrepreneurial courses where they would look for future business partners. The same forum is also utilized for some technical difficulties, and other similar concerns with regards to guidance in browsing the whole website.

Aside from learning the course contents itself, MOOC participants learn some lifelong characters. The students get to interact with people from different parts of the world through group discussions and arrange one locally or virtually; thereby, developing their social intelligence. Students develop grit when they attempt multiple times the exam to learn more and improve also their grade. Their grade becomes a motivating factor to study and practice harder. In evaluating peers, the students are required to have an active constructive feedback/responses to allow people to develop more what they have written or reflected upon.

In the world where we are demanded not only to be experts on our chosen field but also to be able to switch to different things beyond our career, this is just an example of a new way to study and recreate learning practices. With the availability of these new media technologies, we get to explore beyond and improve our capacities and capabilities. Have you tried some MOOC courses lately?

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