To MOOC Or Not To MOOC, That Is The Question…

photo by Bert Kommerij used under CC license

The topic on everyone’s mind (well, in education at least) these days seems to revolve around the Internet. People have very passionate ideas about online classes and their strengths and weaknesses. This can be particularly true for religious education and the unique needs of these students. On the one hand, a religious history course can adapt really well to an online format. On the other hand, a preaching class or something that needs a lot of individual attention leaves a lot of unattended needs with new technology. Also, when it comes to many denomination’s ordination process (if you are on that road), it is of the utmost importance that your professors and those who might approve your capabilities to lead a congregation know you. Nevertheless, in the face of how important online education is becoming, each institution is trying to figure out what is best for them and their students. There are some schools that offer courses that are partially online and partially in person; some are formed like a regular class by having their students log on at a specific time so it still feels like a classroom; and there is also the ever-evolving and controversial MOOC (massive open online courses).

If you are not sure what a MOOC is, it is an online course that is open to hundreds or even thousands of students. This seems to be one of the concerns of some people. How well are our students learning and progressing when they are sharing the professor’s time with thousands of other students? There have also been other situations for schools (technologically, accreditation, and economically), but the attention on MOOCs is so big that even the government is trying to figure out what the benefits and drawbacks are and how it best serves the education of the country. You can look up more on this by doing some quick research on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Despite all of this controversy, MOOCs have the potential to develop into something really important. One example of this is that people are touting MOOCs as a great place to beef up your resume and basic learning skills. If I think it might be advantageous to learn some basics in business and statistics or if I would like to bone up on the new theories and books in the field that I am in, some MOOCs can provide certificates. This is just one example, but I thought it was an interesting idea.

Have you ever participated in a MOOC? Did you like it? Was it not for you? What do you think is the future of MOOCs?