Science Students on MOOCs: Try them; you’ll like them!

science students and MOOCs

A recent survey by Nature and Scientific American of nearly 6000 undergraduate and graduate students in math and sciences from around the world reveals that about one-fifth of them had participated in at least one MOOC (massive open online course).  While the most common reasons for taking a MOOC were the price (free) and because they were curious, nearly half the MOOC-takers wanted to study something that they couldn’t take at their own college or university, or were interested in helping their career development by taking a MOOC. One out of seven of the MOOC takers chose a MOOC because it was the only way to take the course at all.

While a bit more than half the MOOC participants felt that traditional courses were more valuable to their future careers than MOOCs, a majority also agreed that MOOCs were at least as good as traditional courses in educational value.  And an overwhelming majority (over 80%) would take another MOOC in the future, would recommend them to others, and had enjoyed the course.

[Try a MOOC in Research and Persuasive Writing.]

Reasons the MOOC participants gave for taking MOOCs included filling in knowledge gaps (not having the time to “read 1,000 pages” of text books); being able to sample courses and drop in and out as they want; and “collecting” badges and certificates of completion. While some students do not think that MOOCs can replace the human interaction of a traditional course (for hands-on lab work or face-to-face discussion), even skeptics agree that MOOCs have a great advantage in being available to everyone with Internet access.

Have you taken a MOOC? Do you agree with the MOOC participants in this poll? Review the MOOC you took at LearningAdvisor, and let everyone know your experience!

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