Author Topic: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources  (Read 4221 times)

OSUBearCub

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Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« on: June 18, 2014, 11:18:08 AM »
My employer offers a 100% tuition reimbursement for an online Masters degree of my choice.  This would seem to be a slam dunk but I'm weighing the opportunity cost.  I don't really need a Masters to advance my career with this company and I feel there's enough longevity potential to get me through FIRE.  BUT the idea of a free Masters degree is tasty.  Instead of diving right in, I thought I'd try out a MOOC to test things out.  At this point in my life I'm not sure how much time I can devote to studies, etc. 

Does anyone have experience/recommendations/comparisons of Coursera, EdX, and Udacity?
Which of the three is structured most like more traditional online classrooms? 
Are any of the three a complete waste of time?

minkcar

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Re: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2014, 11:36:21 AM »
I just finished the principles of functional programming in Scala course on Coursera.  It was awesome.  It wasn't as intensive as many of my undergrad courses, but mostly that seemed to be that they were trying to cover the material without as many time consuming assignments.

I would highly recommend trying a course or two out. I did the signature track, but I'm not sure of the value of doing so. I view it more as a "thanks for offering this service".  If you just do a free one you can drop out early if there isn't much value, and it's a good evaluation.

Best of luck!


rebel100

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Re: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 11:48:50 AM »
You mention opportunity cost, but then express a desire to spend time on MOOC's when they won't net any tangible degree.  Not that free education is bad, but there might be more profitable ways to spend that time.

I recently completed a very affordable and doable MBA at Western Governors University http://www.wgu.edu/business/master_business_administration_degree .  The opportunity cost was low as the program is competency based and I moved through it rather quickly.  The format is different from most other schools.  If your interested I can send you a link to a blog/thread on my experience.

I don't know exactly what your goals are, but to me...if they are footing the bill....it makes sense to explore all your options.  Heck, you might be able to knock out a Harvard Degree through the Extension School part time.  If they are writing a blank check....take it.

OSUBearCub

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Re: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2014, 12:36:47 PM »
You mention opportunity cost, but then express a desire to spend time on MOOC's when they won't net any tangible degree.  Not that free education is bad, but there might be more profitable ways to spend that time.

I recently completed a very affordable and doable MBA at Western Governors University http://www.wgu.edu/business/master_business_administration_degree .  The opportunity cost was low as the program is competency based and I moved through it rather quickly.  The format is different from most other schools.  If your interested I can send you a link to a blog/thread on my experience.

I don't know exactly what your goals are, but to me...if they are footing the bill....it makes sense to explore all your options.  Heck, you might be able to knock out a Harvard Degree through the Extension School part time.  If they are writing a blank check....take it.

Clarification - I have a few dozen schools to choose from (partners with my company - we are in higher-ed technology).  Western Governors is off the list.  Once I commit to a program, I need to stick with it.  It's frowned-upon to take advantage of the limited spots provided as a benefit and then not follow through.  So, there's zero harm in not going after the Masters but a LOT of potential negatives to abandon a program because I didn't do the research on what I'm capable of or willing to take on.  So that's why I'm willing to burn a few hours a week for a couple months to test the waters. 

rebel100

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Re: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2014, 01:00:31 PM »
Ok, that makes a lot more sense.

I do know that some of the Harvard EdX courses present exactly the same material you would see at the Harvard Extension School.   CS 50 for example is David Malan's recorded lectures and the assignments mirror those of both the college and the Extension School. https://www.edx.org/course/harvardx/harvardx-cs50x-introduction-computer-1022#.U6Hg53Zh-HM

If your testing the waters i would research the most difficult MOOC I could find within the discipline you plan to study...if you can manage that then you maybe have an indicator of performance within a program. 

What schools are on the list?

Subversive

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Re: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2014, 01:25:01 PM »
Tangential question for Canadians. I work in the IT field and do not have a university degree, just a couple of different tech school diplomas. I did a couple years at the U of C after high school before flunking out back in the early 90's. I've always wanted to get a degree because flunking out of University is what I consider to be the biggest failure of my life. Anyway, the question.... Does anyone know if there are good options for getting a Bachelor's Degree online or with limited time off work for Canadians? Are MOOC's typically free, or is there a significant cost?

OSUBearCub

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Re: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2014, 01:42:51 PM »
What schools are on the list?

It wouldn't be prudent to list them.  We're very behind the scenes.  Good schools though - smaller, private, non-profits.  Some have good name recognition, others are regionally known.  The degree would be a good quality degree though.

Noodle

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Re: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2014, 02:21:55 PM »
I think doing a MOOC is a great place to start testing the waters on online learning--it doesn't work for some people at all, and you certainly want to know that before you start--but FYI I have done a variety of distance learning options (including an old-fashioned correspondence course! although we did submit assignments by email) and at least in the humanities, the MOOC version and the for-credit version are very different.

When I did an online seminar, it was much closer to the experience of being in a class. We used chat software for in-class discussions (which was a little weird, since it sometimes got out of sync) but there were readings and assignments and about 20 of us "gathered" at a specific time each week to interact. The online format was because I'm in a really specialized field and it's rare for there to be enough of us in one place to do professional development without spending a lot on travel.

The MOOC version is more one-way in the classes I've sampled. You consume the readings and videos, and then may post your assignments online, but there's not a lot of interaction. In my current class, it may just be because of the way the instructors for this class are using the forums, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of discussion among students...it's all people posting their assignments but not talking to each other much.

ch12

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Re: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2014, 07:03:03 PM »
I love Coursera. I've taken two classes in the past couple of months, and I've really enjoyed it.

Wharton, one of the top business schools, has the first year of its MBA on Coursera.
https://www.coursera.org/penn If I was in your shoes, and looking for rigor and dipping a toe in (while wearing shoes), I'd go for that.

Emilyngh

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Re: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2014, 08:23:53 PM »
I took Dan Ariely's course through https://www.coursera.org/course/behavioralecon .   I didn't get anything out of it, really, outside of what I got from reading his books (free from the library).  His video lectures were very engaging and well done, but I preferred reading his books with the same info.

 The grading was super easy (online multiple choice quizzes and tests and essays for the "distinction certificate" that were graded by the other students).   I finished the course with a distinction certificate and a 99% in the course, and I stopped putting more than about an hour a week into it after about the first 2 weeks.   Really, I found the testing/grading/feedback very disappointing.

Obviously, other MOOC courses may be very different, but I think that a course where an instructor is paid per student (eg, a Master's class that your work pays for) will probably be very different from a MOOC (eg, actually having your essays graded by an expert).

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a college prof myself (so there may be some bias there), but don't teach any online courses, and I was really excited about the MOOC possibility.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 08:26:59 PM by Emilyngh »

RootofGood

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Re: Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Clourses) Resources
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2014, 09:08:04 PM »
I completed Robert Shiller's Financial Markets course at Coursera.  I'd give it 5 stars.  I took it seriously enough to watch 98% of the lectures and complete all the assignments and quizzes (I earned a B+).  I didn't do all the supplemental reading, but did complete a portion of it.

I definitely enjoyed the experience of logging in to Coursera on Sunday afternoons from the hammock on my back deck or from a chair underneath a shade tree by the lake.  Way better than attending a bricks and mortar university and sitting in those uncomfortable chairs and desks (particularly if the class started at 8:00 am).

I signed up for some more coursera courses later in the fall, so we'll see how it goes.  The Financial Markets course had some awesome guests.  Carl Icahn, Larry Summers, Hank Greenberg, to name a few.  Big figures in finance.