MOOCs: Transforming Education, Inspiring individuals

(Ahsan Zafeer, Karachi)

MOOCS: An educational revolution

The centuries-old human tradition of traveling long miles for the quest of knowledge still continues, though it has become comparatively easier thanks to the numerous technological advances. While trains and airplanes may have replaced horses and camels but the man’s quest for learning stays the same.

Learning institutions have evolved in the form of modern colleges and universities for the higher education. However, it is not feasible for everyone to get enrolled in the top universities, not even for those who live in developed parts of the world because of many reasons such as inflation, low standard of living and the unrealistic admission criteria set by most of the Ivy League institutions. The enormous student debt piling up on the shoulders of American students – one of the major social issues faced by the American government, is another reflection of the grave situation.

Perhaps, upon consideration of the fundamental barriers that hinder access to quality higher education, educators came up with the ingenious idea of MOOCS (Massive open online courses) to provide real learning experience at the distance of a few clicks via tutorials from the top scholars belonging to diverse areas of expertise. There is a range of courses available to cater to different needs of students, from Microsoft office to fundamentals of digital marketing, app development, and finance, the platform invites people to relish on a festive feast where everyone gets their favorite dishes as there are thousands of courses on different topics, to choose from.

MOOCS enable people to imbibe excellent ideas from online platforms like www.coursera.org,https://www.edx.org/, https://www.futurelearn.com/, and https://www.udacity.com/ - a result of the endeavors of scholars belonging to schools like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. Since their inception, within a short time, their success has been phenomenal in terms of participation as millions have been reached and engaged in interactive learning. A tremendous advantage of MOOCS is, they enable students to receive lessons online anywhere and anytime, thus solving the accessibility issue.

MOOCS have helped develop a unique academic culture – one where students are not obsessed with grades, worship certificates or sweat after missing lectures. MOOCS are giving rise to a generation of knowledge seekers. They have made access to advanced courses easier than it was ever before.

MOOCS have aptly proved to be an alternative to the conventional classroom environment. Under the traditional teaching methodology, the instructor asks students whether they understand the topic and upon getting an affirmation from few nodding heads, he moves on with his lecture, leaving many unsatisfied and craving for more since all five fingers are not the same. In almost any kind of class, there are some who hesitate to ask questions. Moreover, there is always a time constraint preventing the instructor to adequately satisfy everyone’s queries. But, this platform addresses this critical issue by embedding instructional videos in the recorded lecture form. Hence, students can pause the video and replay it as many times as they want. Moreover, these lectures are very interactive and engaging in nature. Quizzes are taken in the middle and the video doesn’t proceed further without the right answer - a learning model inspired by the American psychologist Benjamin Bloom, who encapsulated the idea of ‘Mastery Learning’ that encourages self-paced learning and one-on-one teaching method.

In these online courses, the progress is gauged through grading criteria that awards points and a minimum grade are required to pass the course. Upon passing, the candidate is eligible for a verified certificate, from the instructors, further adding value as a qualification that can be mentioned in the person’s resume as well, thus improving the prospects of getting the coveted job.

Furthermore, MOOCS offer innovative discussion forums. All students need to do is, put their relevant questions up and wait for a response. Answers can be given by a vast community of members comprising people from all backgrounds – academics, other students, professionals etc. In this way, like-minded people around the globe get the opportunity to tap into the vast pool of knowledge worldwide.


Talking about MOOCS doesn’t go without mentioning Salman Khan - an American educator, and entrepreneur, whose website https://www.khanacademy.org/ features over 5000 lectures and 100,000 exercises covering a vast variety of subjects. The massive outreach of khan academy and its ability to cater to wide range of students has been nothing short of revolutionary.

Learning - an innate human desire is possessed as an instinct by all. Knowledge has to mean, a necessary usefulness and bearing in a direction that does not only benefit us but the planet we inhabit. It is the knowledge that raises a person from dust to the pinnacle of success. Reengineering of education in the form of MOOCS has certainly revolutionized the process of acquiring knowledge based education.

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