Professional development and MOOCs

What is a MOOC?

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, and they are gaining popularity.  (Note here that the use of “course” is what some of us would still consider a “subject”.)  Some of the world’s top universities are offering subjects online… to anyone… and they are free. 

What’s in a MOOC?

What’s offered in a MOOC depends on the university or supplier of the course.  Mostly, it’s course material with supporting resources like PDFs, video clips, and pod casts.
Is there assessment to complete?

It depends on the course.  For many MOOCs there is assessment and often you are working collaboratively on a piece of work that is open to viewing by everyone.  Some universities offer MOOCs so that you can choose to do the assessment and get a certificate at the end, or just download the subject material for your own reading (no certificate for that).  Some MOOCs that have assessment have start and finish dates, so you need to be aware of that when searching and enrolling in them.
Is it worth doing a MOOC?

It’s not all free qualifications and rainbows!  At the moment they aren’t recognised by most as being equivalent to completing a subject at a university; however the content offered may be very similar.  Universities aren’t going to start offering entire degrees to anyone who wants them, for free, anytime soon- so a couple of MOOCs are not a replacement for formal qualifications. However, they make a great informal learning/ professional development activity.  If there is a gap in your professional knowledge, why not see if Harvard, Yale or MIT are offering a free subject to fill that gap?? 
How do I find MOOCs?

Useful websites that provide access to MOOCs are: – Includes universities like Princeton, Yale, Brown, and John Hopkins University – Includes universities like Harvard, MIT, Australian National University, and University of Queensland
and homegrown – Includes Griffith University and Macquarie University 

If you have an iPad you can access a number of MOOCs through the iTunes store that have been developed for that device.
Some example MOOCs you may be interested in:

For professional development:
Writing for strategic communication – La Trobe University (available through iTunes U)
Understanding happiness – TED (available through iTunes U)

Also, don’t rule out a MOOC for your hobby or interest. How about Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas? Or perhaps A History of Rock is more your style?

Anyone completed a MOOC before? Or thinking you might? Would love to hear how things go and share your experience with those who are also considering taking one!

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