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A different method of learning?

Published on 27/01/14

Last year there appeared a website called Coursera, linked with the names of well-known universities, described as being able to offer some of the most useful courses of these universities and to make it accessible to everyone who has internet access. This kind of course is called MOOC, which stands for “massive open online course”, and each of the four words precisely describes the new-born education.
And Coursera is not alone – almost every student knows about TEDtalks (maybe not literally part of MOOC but it also stands in the line of online education and the spreading of knowledge); its peer websites include Udacity (which provides computer science courses by Stanford) andedX (which was set up by MIT and Harvard).

The principal part of the courses offered by Coursera is the video lectures; normally they would be one-hour long each week in contrast with the fifteen-minute long TEDtalks. Plus, there are quizzes, assignments to be assessed by online peers, forums full of passionate threads, final exams and maybe a valuable certificate (mostly not free). These factors differentiate online courses largely from talks or YouTube short science animations. They demand your time, passion and devotion into studying if you do want to treat this course seriously but not just to brose and to watch it for fun. We all know that it is very hard to memorise something after just reading it once; even reading about it for as many times as you can won’t be as helpful as answering and writing about it. And in my short life and even shorter study experience, one learns by retelling what one has acknowledged, but not by reading the textbook or notes over and over.

By being online, MOOC truly does the job of spreading knowledge around the world, breaking the limits of time zones and physical boundaries; moreover, we don’t have to be confined to our own degree, we would have access to all disciplines and to a wider range of knowledge. The most important question of all, as students, is: why do we bother studying outside of classrooms? Why do we open instead of LOL when we finally have the access to computers? Because it is completely voluntary, and in my opinion it corresponds with the true aim of studying; it should be in your interest and could truly contribute to your lifelong skills.