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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Massive Open Online Courses don’t provide quality education

    Choosing to take classes online as opposed to in-person could be based on many factors. Maybe it offers a more flexible schedule or is less expensive. Maybe it’s proximity. However, just like an in-person class, online classes will have its drawbacks.

    Some online programs that offer a variety of college classes, let the quality of their coursework fall by the wayside and instead are focused more on convenience and enrollment.

    The Massive Open Online Courses program is an online higher education program that allows thousands of people, across the nation, to enroll in a college course. MOOC was created a year ago with the intention of having a customized and self-directed online learning experience for college students. The program partners with universities in order to offer some of their courses online. The courses offered are in a wide range of subjects, from physics to history.

    For a MOOC class, students pay about 10 percent of what they would for a hands-on lecture or an online course instructed by a faculty member from the university. The cost for one course might be around $89, whereas the cost for a course offered directly through the university can be more than $1,000, which could prompt people to consider the quality of the program.

    Not only that, the difference in the amount of money is so large, it suggests that there might be concerns about what higher standards the program is being kept to. While the intentions of MOOC might seem purely educational, UA assistant professor of Africana Studies Bryan Carter, who instructs virtual classes, said that MOOC focuses on numbers. Students become nothing but numbers, and many will not learn as much because there is no forum to truly spark discussion or have a means of interaction. Furthermore, there is no limit in enrollment in these classes.

    From a financial standpoint, MOOC seems like it could be a successful alterative to traditional college courses, but Carter said it’s, “the worst implementation program”.

    According to a recent BBC article many professors echoed these concerns stating, “University staff are not happy and see this as the beginning of cost-cutting and reduction in quality for publicly funded universities.”

    MOOC requires self-discipline, since there are no strict deadlines and the completion of assignments is left to the individual to successfully complete a 12-15 week course.

    This was also one of the challenges that Associated Press reporter Justin Pope said he faced after he decided to enroll in MOOC class.

    “The first thing I learned is why so few who start MOOCs finish them: They’re hard. When a class is free and doesn’t generally produce a credential it takes real self-discipline (or a promise to your editor to write about the experience) to make yourself keep up.”

    Yes, independence is nice, but some form of direction and strict boundaries are necessary in successfully completing these classes. Students can access material from any mobile device and still be engaged in the course. Unlike MOOC, there is engagement in the innovative online courses offered through universities.

    Enrolling in these courses is not financially savvy. Even though students are receiving the same materials through MOOC as they would through a university course, the value of the education they earn is much lower. Bottom line: the program is not a wise investment.

    Be smart, UA students, and don’t enroll in MOOC classes because of the cheaper price tag. Instead invest both the time and money in a true, quality education.

    — Marisela Siqueiros is a senior studying English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or via Twitter @WildcatOpinions.

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