DEMYSTIFYING MOOCs

Today, MOOCs are available to anyone with an interest in learning anywhere in the world. Millions of students enroll every month in different e-Learning platforms where, by making the ideal decision, they access the best training available, often for free. That's bad? Of course not? Although MOOCs seem to be undervalued, perhaps this is about to change.
Demystifying moocs

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The versatility of MOOCs with which they can cover an infinite number of topics, contrary to being seen as an added value for the student, has apparently cast some doubt on their academic quality, creating some openly unfounded stereotypes, which begin when the mistake is made. of trying to give a mooc a scope that it does not have. We will talk about these false beliefs demystifying the moocs, and putting them in their real and potential proportions.

Although MOOCs can be a great training tool within the reach of millions, it is necessary to understand that a MOOC course by itself does not make anyone a professional, or graduate from a specialist in anything -unless it is not a simple MOOC, but one of the evolutions of MOOCs that we will talk about later. MOOCs offer training in what is known as Work or professional skills, technical or specific skills and generic skills. The MOOC offers punctual training, which requires a professional to fulfill a certain task. This is how some of the most robust platforms, with millions of students who have freely made the decision to study a MOOC, are also developing programs specially designed for companies to train their employees in the precise skills that each of them needs. . The MOOC revolution implies that each student, each professional, each worker, each person, has specific needs to satisfy in terms of training, and the MOOC platform has the capacity and versatility to adapt to practically any profile and requirement. Platforms like Udemy, for example, have more than 40.000 instructors who have jointly developed a volume of more than 100.000 courses worldwide. We can call that variety.

A NEW AIR FOR MOOCs

When in February 2013, Antonio Regalado, senior biomedicine editor for MIT, wrote a famous paper he boldly titled “The most important education technology in 200 years” Referring to MOOCs, he was really only predicting an educational revolution based on the phenomenon of exponential growth presented by the pioneering platforms in this innovation, hoping that they would manage to maintain both educational quality and the possibility of control and monitoring.

Regalado launched with an approach as disruptive as MOOCs themselves, and it certainly wasn't wrong. But possibly he fell short, seeing what is happening today with MOOCs.

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Like other industries and sectors of the economy, the Coronavirus pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge. The loss of millions of jobs due to the infeasibility of offering services in person to their clients is harming thousands of businesses like never before, leaving a fatal wound for many of them. The way to eat a virtual hamburger has not yet been invented, but today it is possible to receive classes with fundamentally the same academic quality as in person, and if we look at it with objective eyes, with greater functionalities, through virtual education.

The MOOCS platforms that had been advancing for a decade in their educational model, facing difficult stages in the process with many unfounded myths, have found in Covid-19, ironically, a new air, since it is a fact that has driven them. Only Coursera between March and May registered 10 million new students. In general, the most popular platforms have doubled or tripled web traffic to their official portals.

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DIVERSIFICATION OF MOOCs

One of the most critical aspects of the MOOC business model is that it is based on being free. In principle, students can access the course and take it for free. Normally, if the student wants to receive a diploma that formalizes the successful completion of said course, it is when she will pay to have that achievement within her academic curriculum. There may be variations of this model, but in essence it works in a similar way on different platforms. This has possibly contributed to the stereotype of low-quality education. Something that is free cannot be of good quality, anyone might think in part with good reason, based on other experiences of products or services. But when the right study decision is made on a MOOC platform, satisfaction is guaranteed.

I recently completed the virtual course on Coursera: Entrepreneurship: launching an innovative business, but this course was different. In fact, it was not a simple course. was what in Coursera is called a Specialized Program, which in short is an advanced course, made up of a group of courses that complement each other or are developed to offer much deeper training on a topic of interest. This Specialized Program available on Coursera was developed by the University of Maryland. The lead instructor for the program was, is, Dr. James V. Green, who leads the educational activities of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) as the Director of Entrepreneurial Education. Another of the instructors for the innovation and entrepreneurship program was Michael Pratt, faculty and student advisor in the University of Maryland's Technology Minor Entrepreneurship Program and the University's General Education Program, who in his 35-year career in management and finance, he would have obtained investments for more than USD $100 million for a dozen Startups.

As part of the anecdotes of the course, Dr. Green commented in one of the video conferences that one of the founders of Google, Sergei Brin, had graduated from the University of Maryland. In other words, the scenario was so radical, that I was receiving the equivalent of a short course or diploma (3 to 4 months of study), from the comfort of my home, with teachers who could well give classes to the creator of one of the largest and most relevant technology companies in history. In no other way would it be possible to have that in another educational experience, unless that means paying thousands of dollars. In my case, I was able to additionally reduce the value to pay, since the specialized program in Coursera is paid per month of study, and this one that had a suggested study time of 4 months, I managed to reduce it, dedicating more weekly study time, only 2 months.

That was the vision that inspired Regalado to launch his bold statement: First-rate academic quality, within the reach of millions of people. But today the most influential platforms are turning the collective imagination of low quality or that a MOOC only involves taking a short course, and have begun to offer more evolved products with greater academic weight, as Coursera does, with its Specialized Programs. Other types of studies are added to these specialized programs, such as Professional Certifications in association with technology giants, and an exclusive educational product of the Coursera platform: The MasterTrack. All these studies have evolved the concept of MOOCs to much more structured and academically valuable studies that are exclusively offered on these platforms. In the case of edX, have also developed more robust course packages called MicroMasters. Future learn For its part, it offers specialized courses called Microcredentials and programs postgraduate level and with academic accreditation from the most prestigious universities in the United Kingdom and Europe. In this way, the platforms seek the sustainability of the business model, offering increasingly better content and academic quality. But they go for more.

VIRTUAL PLATFORMS: FROM MOOCs TO UNDERGRADUATE AND POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMS

Platforms like Coursera and others are already offering undergraduate and postgraduate programs from prestigious universities through their technological platforms. The Universidad de los Andes in Colombia has already launched the first online postgraduate course available exclusively on Coursera, which has a start schedule for the year 2021, prior approval of the Ministry of National Education in Colombia. This MSc in Software Engineering, another program was recently added: the Virtual Master in Data Analytics Intelligence (MIAD) which is projected to start in August 2021. These two programs would become the first Spanish-language graduate-level programs available on Coursera. With the approval of the Ministry of Education, which would surely have no major inconvenience, the door will be opened to a true revolution in terms of academic offer never before offered in the country to which, through the Coursera infrastructure, hundreds or perhaps thousands of students, in Latin America.

Los Andes would be the first Latin American university to offer postgraduate programs on Coursera, but others have already done so. The most prestigious universities in the world, such as the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, or the University of London, among others, already offer undergraduate and postgraduate programs on that platform. The great benefit, in addition to the possibility of accessing a program of the highest academic quality, from anywhere in the world, consists in being able to do so at costs that normally would not exceed 50% of the value of said study in face-to-face mode. edX and Future Learn also offer undergraduate and graduate level studies, with the highest level universities, where, in the case of edX, we find high level universities in Colombia, such as the Universidad del Rosario and the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.

The direction that MOOCs have taken little by little found a way to give the user a much greater value in their academic load, maintaining a first-class educational quality and developing a sustainable business model. This allows us to envision a long-term career in the future in the next 10 years, in which these giants of e-Learning can become the spearhead of global education.

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fabian mendoza

fabian mendoza

Digital Marketing specialist and higher education expert, Fabian Mendoza has dedicated more than a decade to transforming the teaching landscape. With a significant track record in student retention for dozens of universities in his native Colombia, Fabian has played a crucial role in developing strategies that maintain student interest and engagement in virtual environments. Currently, in his work with AulaPro, he has guided thousands of visitors in the search for online courses and programs that enhance his professional skills. His contribution has been essential to making online education an accessible and relevant option for a global audience.
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