There are an increasing number of schools who offer free Massive Open Online Course’s (MOOC’s) which are taught by the best professors, the best universities, and the best courses. Their popularity has led some to believe that within fifty years, brick and mortar colleges and universities will begin to disappear. While both MOOC’s and the traditional education system can deliver a quality education, only MOOC’s provide the flexibility, low-cost, and recognition required to deliver an education to the masses.
Although the traditional education system attempts to serve the vast majority of us, for those whom it cannot serve, MOOC’s are better suited. To find a class, start by scanning through the available courses on websites such as Coursera, edX, or Kahn Academy. For course reviews go to Coursetalk or Class Sentral. One reason why MOOCs are better than traditional schools is that they were built to have a flexible schedule that could not be replicated by a traditional school. When you sign up to a class you can take a class between a lunch break, after work, or while on vacation. You can also skip a week or two by extending a deadline. Convenient scheduling allows for programs of study that are either self-paced or can be started at various points throughout the year. If you decide to drop a class, your information can be saved and transferred to a future session. Similar to Facebook, there are message boards and you can send messages between students. Second, they are free or cost very little. Some courses, such as Courseara, even offer financial aid. Also, instead of worrying about transportation costs or spending time sitting in traffic, you’ll only need to walk to your Internet enabled computer. Finally, after completing a class, a certificate of achievement is awarded by institutions such as Harvard, Yale, or Stanford.
Traditional educational systems have and will continue to provide a quality education. In the past, with a more traditional approach, I would go to a local community college and sign up to take one of the hundred or more available courses.
RateMyProfessors.com did a good job of finding a professor that would “inspire a student, create a comfortable learning environment, and generally bring a course to life.” Peter Jacobs, Business Insider (Follow him on Twitter)
Although MOOC’s offer flexible schedules, traditional schools compete by offering convenient nighttime classes that you could attend after work. In addition, there were several financial incentives. For example, the money I spent was tax deductible and in some cases an education credit was offered by the U.S. Federal government. As a citizen of California, the cost of each unit was already subsidized by my tax dollars. Some employers offer to pay for tuition, books, and parking. Finally, the education I received would be recognized by international institutions. I would receive college credit for all the classes I had taken. If I decided to switch schools, in many cases I could transfer them to the new location. In addition, any brick and mortar institutions have offered online courses from sometime; however, they suffer from the same high cost of tuition, books and are fixed to the semester time constraint. The traditional school system makes a great attempt at delivering a flexible, affordable, and convenient education.
I’ve mentioned in the past that life’s great second acts will require a conscious education. A conscious education is one where we take our education into our own hands through MOOC’s or a traditional education. This year’s Sports Illustrated “Sportsperson of the Year” Serena Williams said, “It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can do anything you set your mind to. It could be education, it could be business, it could be anything. It requires hard work, discipline, and most importantly, self-belief.” If you have the time to get a traditional education, I encourage you to do so. However, for the rest of us, I encourage you to join a MOOC.