30 Jul 2013


By Sinmisola Araoye, 9JEducation
Tuesday, July 30 2013

Every once in a while when I mention to someone that I have to take a final, I get this quizzical look that inevitably prefaces the question “What class?” Then I have to explain that the final is for an online class that I am taking just for fun. 
The truth is that I don’t take the MOOC classes for fun. The choices I make are designed to perform certain functions in my educational profile. I am currently taking a class on competitive strategy with Coursera because I feel like it is a good complement to my background in business.

Among my friends who have expressed an interest in taking classes online, this pattern also seems to be holding true. Maybe we are a self selecting group of people, or maybe not. When EdX surveyed a group of students from its first MOOC class, quite a few people took the class because they had a background in the subject area from traditional university courses. The profile of the MOOC student varies though. There are people who take the classes to refresh their skillset. There are also those who take MOOC classes as way to explore an area of interest. There are also students who are bored by traditional education and find the MOOC a way to gain a community of people who are interested in learning beyond the rudimentary educational requirements.

One thing holds true for MOOC students who manage to sign-up for classes and complete them successfully. The unifying thread is discipline. There is no structure rewarding or punishing MOOC students for the classes mostly. Extrinsic validation is often lower than intrinsic validation from MOOC classes. There are often times when I have a test due and I have to force myself to complete it by first deadline instead of hard deadline because I feel I owe myself that much.

 Sinmi is a writer who is obsessed with learning. She is immersed in all things MOOC. When she is not lusting after knowledge, she is sampling the food in Boston.

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