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Friday, September 19, 2014

Learning without boundaries through online courses

"Malaysians are exploring niche areas of study via online courses, and it’s shifting the educational landscape." reports The Star Online.

Photo: The Star Online

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are about widening my horizons and going out of my comfort zone to learn things I did not get to pursue in university, says computer science graduate and IT service provider Ricky Soo.

Soo is among an increasing number of Malaysians actively pursuing Massive Open Online Courses and believe they are a valuable educational tool that expands one’s knowledge and skills, at virtually no cost whatsoever.

MOOC portals have popped up in the last decade, but only gained real prominence of late. Some of the well-known ones are, Stanford Online, Open Education Europa, edX, and udemy, which offer hundreds of free courses from top universities worldwide.

Courserian Soo , who actively organises local ‘meetups’ between other Courserians and online learners, says he delved into MOOCs because he wished to discover new things.

Soo is one of the administrators for the Coursera Malaysia Study Group (not affiliated to Coursera), created for members to discuss and share their MOOC experiences.

To date, the Facebook group has over 200 members, though only a handful show up for the 

“The first meetup I organised, only seven people turned up. Each person shared something they learnt on Coursera. We then did a few follow-up sessions on learning in general, and those became popular,' he explains.

These meetups, Soo says, are important to retain the social aspect of learning, as MOOCs limit the amount of physical interactions and discussions between students.

The peer assessment format is also a refreshing change from the norm, says Soo, who is a firm believer in the “wisdom of the crowd”. 

“When you have such a large number of students in one class, those assessing your work are anonymous and also random. They have no motivation to be biased or unfair towards you,” he said.

With the growing appeal for MOOCs, which also provide paid options for those seeking further accreditation, Soo believes traditional institutions will struggle to cope if they cannot reinvent their business model.

Source: The Star Online