Ser más creativos: Education Online for Life-Long Learners
MOOCS, or massive online open courses, have been gaining in popularity in the last few years and especially since 2012 with the launch of Coursera.org. Coursera is an education platform that partners with over 100 universities and organizations worldwide, to offer free courses online. Learners of all ages and from every background can choose from over 400 courses, provided that they have access to a computer or tablet and an internet connection. Each course runs for four to six weeks and includes video lectures, weekly quizzes and assignments. Other popular providers of these free online courses are edX and Udacity. Each provider has its own platform and the main difference between them is the courses offered and their structure and style of delivery.
Coursera is the provider that I am most familiar with and last fall I completed two courses offered by Berklee College of Music. I found both classes (Songwriting and Guitar I) to be of very high quality. The video lectures were professionally produced and the courses were challenging, interesting and increased my knowledge of the subject areas.
The instructor of a course is not able to assess the work of each individual due to the number of students—tens of thousands of people around the world might be enrolled in a course. Instead, the assignments are randomly assigned for grading to others enrolled in the class. Peers assess each other with a system of points for the required content. This part of the course is completely anonymous. Quizzes are multiple choice and are graded immediately on submission. This is one of the appeals of online courses, instant feedback.
Through Coursera, students are not given college credit but certificates are sent to those who complete the course within the parameters given at the outset of the course. In some cases, students may pay a fee to take the course for college credit and not surprisingly, the universities will market their fee-based online degree programs to the students enrolled.
The next course I plan to take, Ser más creativos, begins in April and will be taught by Guadalupe Vadillo of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Coursera has listed at least eight courses that will start in the coming weeks or months and that will be taught entirely in Spanish. Some of the subject areas include: enhancing one’s creativity, technology in education, the continuation and development of a family business, entrepreneurship and innovations in education.
While I don’t think the MOOC’s are a substitute for a traditional degree program, they are a very good tool to supplement one’s education and a source for life-long learners. Even if one does not complete the course in its entirety and receive a certificate, the material is there for the taking, offering exposure to a new subject or new insight into a familiar topic.
Christie Miller is an active freelance musician, clarinetist. She has performed with many of Chicagolands finest ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
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