MOOCs: A New Approach to Learning
Georgia Tech's decision to incorporate a program such as this into its College of Computing curriculum is part of a growing trend in higher education. More universities and colleges are partnering with private educational organizations to offer free or low-cost college courses to people worldwide who can complete them in their own time from the comforts of their homes. Commonly called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), most of these do not offer college credit toward a degree but offer a variety of classes to a mass number of individuals.
Several elite universities, such as Brown University, Johns Hopkins University and U.C. Berkeley, started offering these massive online classes in the last few years, teaching courses in various subject areas such as engineering, arts and humanities, information technology, mathematics, business and computer science. MOOCs are a great option for those who cannot afford college, but want the opportunity to take certain classes.
These online classes offer open access and interactive participation through the Internet. They create communities for students and instructors to interact through user forums. Standard course material, readings, videos and quizzes are typically part of the curriculum as well.
It was not by chance that Georgia Institute of Technology chose to offer an online master's degree in computer science. Nationwide, there is a shortage of STEM workers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and getting more students educated and degreed in this field will help close that gap. There are roughly 3 million technology positions open in today's job market, so educating computing professionals is a "societal need."3