Will MOOCs Change Higher Education for the Better?
Professor John Covach teaches a MOOC class about the history of rock music at the University of Rochester.
Never heard of a MOOC? It stands for massive open online course. Using innovative technology, MOOCs open up a free learning platform that defies brick and mortar classrooms and the traditional teaching methods such as lectures.
Covach, director of the Institute for Popular Music at the university, told TakePart that MOOCs open up higher education to the world.
“A lot of people first think that college students would be the most likely students for these courses,” he said. “But if you think about it for a second, you'll realize that those students already have access to college-level courses. Those who benefit the most are those who are not currently in school, either because they are already in a career or because they perhaps cannot afford school, or maybe just cannot commit the time to regularly scheduled classes.”
MOOCs, which have become the 21st century education trend, may shake up studying in ways that forever alter the way students learn.
This week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “I am very, very, very interested in MOOCs. We need some disruptive innovation in higher education.”
While colleges have long offered online classes, MOOCs are a different beast, where literally hundreds of thousands of students can partake in a class if they have an Internet connection.
Take Covach’s class.
He teaches two parts to his “The History of Rock Music” course for Coursera, a Silicon Valley-based company, which announced this week that it plans to partner with 10 state university systems in Colorado, Georgia, New York, Tennessee, and Texas to bolster MOOCs. Even though Covach doesn’t meet his students face-to-face, he says he sees enthusiasm and dedication to the course.
“Maybe it’s because pop music is a big part of so many people’s lives, but the energy I see on the discussion forums is amazing,” he said. “The students immediately solved the problem of finding all the music and posting links, a task not so easy when you consider that this access needs to be worldwide. Before we could even respond with an explanation or solution, they already had it worked out. They post videos, additional songs, recommendations for books and extra reading—it’s wonderful and very gratifying.”