I usually try and post once a week, but I missed last week because I enrolled in a Computing MOOC and it has been keeping me very busy. What’s a MOOC? It’s a Massive Online Open Course. These are (usually?) run by Universities and they are becoming quite popular. They are offered for free and anyone can enroll. The catch is that at the end of the course you don’t get a certificate of completion and it is unlikely you will be able to do a whole degree.
So why do universities offer these? There are a couple of reasons. One is that it is a way for universities to distribute knowledge across the whole community and the other is that it introduces prospective students to the university.
These are good for the community too. They provide a way to try out university without going through the process of enrolling and paying fees. Just like a normal course you will (or at least in the ones I have seen) be able to interact with your fellow classmates and enjoy the benefits of having a qualified lecturer answer questions. Of course, being online means you never have to leave home to participate. Great for a child that is nearing the end of High School and contemplating university.
The course I have enrolled in is Computing 1: The art of computing, run by Richard Buckland at the University of New South Wales here in Australia. It was created from the UNSW first year computing course. It runs for twelve weeks and covers machine code and C. Lectures are provided through video. These are embedded in the course but they are also available on YouTube. This is the first one.
There are a lot of tasks, but most are short requiring 15 minutes to 1 hour to complete and they are be submitted online. Results are often instant through an automatic marking process. I’m surprised at how enjoyable it is and how enthusiastic other students are. Also, I am surprised by how much I have learnt in just a few weeks.
According to their website the next cohort will be starting on 3rd December 2012. Enrolling is easy – it will only take a couple of minutes. You can even log in with your Facebook account. If you enroll and find it is not for you, you can simple withdraw as there is no penalty. If you’re interested, but computing is not your thing then do a Google search for mooc and the subject you are interested in. It’s likely that you will find something.