What the MOOC? The Rise of Open Courses and Where We’re Headed

Maybe you’ve heard of MOOCs. They’re massive open online courses offered by a number of universities in platforms like Coursera and EdEx. Maybe you haven’t heard of MOOCs…yet. You will.

With the rise in online education came the desire to make education more accessible to everyone. Enter: open online courses. Open courses allow anyone, anywhere, to enroll and take courses without applying to a college or university or having to pay for them.

And that is incredible. I mean really, really fantastic.

There’s so much information readily available for people who want to learn a new skill or learn more about something just because it interests them. And MOOCs provide a virtual, perpetual and inexhaustible resource.

The perceived draw back to MOOCs is that the courses “don’t count.” Because you’re not enrolled with a university, paying for the course, you don’t get a grade. Even where there’s an opportunity for a certificate of completion, course work doesn’t count toward college credit. Well, most of the time.

The idea that MOOCs can be used to shorten the time to graduation and decrease the overall cost of a college education has been around for a while. The problem is that it’s been a little difficult for colleges and universities to do.

But we’ve been working on it. And times are changing.

This spring East Tennessee State University will, once again, offer two, online courses through our Open Buccanneer University Course System (OpenBUCS). The courses are U.S. History since 1877 and Introduction to Music.

These eight-week courses are free and available to anyone, anywhere. What’s interesting here is that there is a path to college credit component after the open course work is complete. The cost for pursuing credit is 1/3 of the cost of regular, in-state tuition.

When students receive credit, it’s applied to their college transcript. It counts towards a degree and is transferable to most colleges and universities.

Technology is changing the way that students and universities approach education, and we can’t wait to see where we’ll go next!

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