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What's a MOOC? Online classes for free

By Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mooc stands for Massive Open Online Courses, basically university classes anyone can take from anywhere. I'd heard that a few well known Universities in the US were pioneering the idea, but it wasn't really catching on. It's probably far easier to miss a class when you can just view the material later, or tomorrow, or to skip it entirely and tell yourself you can go back to it if you need to.

When I was in highschool, probably about 16 or 17 (so 10 years ago) I took a summer class online through a local community college on Adobe Dreamwaver , a WYSIWYG platform for designing webpages (that is What You See Is What You Get, pronounced wizzy-wig) without knowing HTML. The class was very basic, and I'm not sure I learned much since the program was pretty intuitive to begin with. Still, online classes have been around for quite some time although I don't think they're usually not taken all that seriously.

Then a few weeks ago Lifehacker published a post about Lifehacker U, a collection of online classes being offered like Harvard University - CS50X: Introduction to Computer Science, Georgia Institute of Technology - Introduction to Physics I with Laboratory and
Yale - Constitutional Law. Those are some pretty serious names in education!

But I didn't really think much about it until the BBC posted the article
UK enters online university race about FutureLearn, a program where multiple universities offering 20 short classes ( like Begin programming: build your first mobile game) students can take on any platform, even through their phone.

Even the CG Master Academy is offering classes for all you artists. (I'd love to try my hand as digital illustration)

I find this idea really exciting, I think we all can think of a few subjects we wish we knew more about, but might be too complicated to teach ourselves (how to properly utilize tax breaks and deductions),  or you really need feed back to properly master (creative writing or painting), or maybe just need the structure to keep you on task. I know I could really brush up on my calculus and take a refresher in physics 101!

If you could take a class in anything without leaving your home, what would you take? Psychology? Sushi making? Intro to String Theory?

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