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The Rage For MOOCs 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the getting-digitally-edumicated dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ever since Stanford's Sebastian Thrun and Google's Peter Norvig signed up 160,000 people for their online artificial intelligence course last year, educators and entrepreneurs have been going ga-ga for 'MOOCs' — massive open online courses. A new article in Technology Review, The Crisis in Higher Education, gives a balanced overview of the pluses and minuses of MOOCs as well as some of the technical challenges they face in areas like machine learning and cheating detection. The author, Nicholas Carr, draws an interesting parallel with the 'correspondence course mania' of the 1920s, when people rushed to sign up to take courses by mail. 'Four times as many people were taking them as were enrolled in all the nation's colleges and universities combined.' That craze fizzled when investigations revealed that the quality of the teaching was poor and dropout rates astronomical. 'Is it different this time?' asks Carr. 'Has technology at last advanced to the point where the revolutionary promise of distance learning can be fulfilled?'"
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The Rage For MOOCs

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  • HEY TONY!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by lemur3 (997863)

    Where ya been ?!! I been looking for you ya mooc!!

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:09PM (#41490185)
    The issue is not technology, it is teaching methodology. It is not clear if we have developed teaching methods that are appropriate for large online courses, or even for small courses.
    • Technology has improved the ability of an interested individual to get their hands on all manner of published works, and how fast they can do so; but if "RTFM and figure it out." doesn't work for the student or the subject in question, it isn't clear that technology provides much to change the game.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Teaching methodology (pedagogy) is a technology. We need to develop it into a science, whereas now it is a craft - clearly is not well understood, given the never-ending debates over how to best educate people. From the article:

      MIT and Harvard are designing edX to be as much a tool for educational research as a digital teaching platform, Anant Agarwal says. Scholars are already beginning to use data from the system to test hypotheses about how people learn, and as the portfolio of courses grows, the oppor

      • by supercrisp (936036) on Friday September 28, 2012 @01:47PM (#41491723)
        I have to offer a mixed response to this claim that teaching must be developed into a science, so I'll comment, even though I came to this discussion to dispose of mod points. Some teaching of pedagogy is influenced by real, hard science. There are courses and teachers who are teaching pedagogy with cognitive psychology, outcomes evidence based on sufficiently large numbers of sample to be relevant, and that sort of thing. However, the _impression_ I get is that a lot of people in education departments are not basing their work on any real science. For example, there are still lots of education people talking about multiple intelligences, when there is no real evidence for it. Basically, it seems that ideology drives education pedagogy. There's a lot of marxist-lite thinking that is in actuality a sort of watered-down Romanticism. One good example of this is the belief that encouraging expressive fluency in writing will produce students who can write analytical arguments. The thinking still seems to be based on ideas like universal grammar, that we have a "language instinct" that will flourish if we nurture it and blossom into a set of skills that are actually conventional rather than innate. And, of course, there are more right-wing tinged methodologies too. My favorite example of ideologies determining pedagogical practice is the war between whole language (left) and phonics (right). Both camps are wrong because neither will accept that there's something in the other side's method, as well as because neither side is paying much attention to any actual science on the topic (the discourse seems to be more driven by marketing than anything else). That said, there was a day when a lot of science was behind universal grammar-type educational practices.... It's easy to cook your results, without even knowing it. And certainly a lot of education research is barely research, relying as it does on very small sample sizes. And, frankly, there's generally not that much funding for the good research because so much of the funding comes with the expected outcome more or less built in.
        • Indeed. The crucial argument that gets lost in the methodology wars is between "top-down"/expressive/problem-solving and "bottom-up"/basic skills. Phonics is ostensibly a "basic skills" idea, but because it is only one basic skill and ignores the basic skill that is whole-word reading, it doesn't work, and is used to taint the whole idea of "basic skills" teaching. On the other hand, a lot of the "whole word" camp likes to call themselves "real books", claiming that they're teaching reading by a top-down

        • ...a lot of education research is barely research, relying as it does on very small sample sizes.

          Actually I think the problem with sample size is not really solvable. If you increase the sample size of students you then must typically introduce more instructors. At this point you now have a new sample size problem: the instructor sample. Ironically MOOCs are really good at addressing this: one instructor can teach 160k students which is a large enough sample size that you can divide it randomly into several groups to act as control samples. So while I have strong doubts about the quality of the educa

          • Sample size is not a problem for any moderately sized university. I teach at a relatively small university but often have 100+ students in my classes and sometimes I am teaching only one of several sections of that course. Year to year and between different sections, there is tons of room to do statistically relevant research.
          • Yes, but there's two important issues here:

            1) When researching pedagogical issues, you want a large instructor sample size, as you need to eliminate the uncontrolled variables of individual instructor differenences.

            2) a single 160k student sample set all doing the exact same thing is a total waste of time. 160,000 students could be doing 1600 different things in groups of 100 and provide us with statistically significant results that would profoundly and irrevocably change the face of education as we know

    • by N0Man74 (1620447)

      I've signed up for a couple of the classes. Like the real world, the quality and style of classes does vary from class to class.

      I've seen a few duds, but overall I'd rate most of the classes that I've looked at as being competitive, and in some cases, superior to traditional classes I've taken.

      Without fail, if there was something in a lecture or assignment that I found unclear, I could pause and check the forums and find a discussion thread that addresses the point of confusion.

      Many folks also organize stu

    • For starters:

      Brian, reading note from his babymomma: "P.S. Will you write me a letter of recommendation for the University of Phoenix?"

      Brian, aside to himself: No. No, I'm not gonna go out on a limb like that.

    • The issue is not technology, it is teaching methodology. It is not clear if we have developed teaching methods that are appropriate for large online courses, or even for small courses.

      Exactly. And to quote the article's main criticism of current universities, Dropout rates are often high, particularly at public colleges, and many graduates display little evidence that college improved their critical-thinking skills.

      That's one area that is very difficult to address with distance education. I've studied the best part of 3 undergraduate degrees, 1-and-a-half face-to-face and the other 1-and-a-half at distance, and I've taught languages to people at various levels, and it's abundantly cle

    • by tkr (87256)

      "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
      And waste its sweetness on the desert air."
      Thomas Gray, Elegy...

      As an old, my hope is for that MOOC courses will help many "mute, inglorious Milton[s]" find their voices and improve the human condition, for no better reason than that it seems like a good idea.

  • The article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Puls4r (724907) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:10PM (#41490195)
    It's a faulty assumption that lack of technology caused high dropout rates in during the correspondence craze of the 20's. The real issue is that a low entry cost coupled with a lack of requiring people to attend a physical room or building means that walking away doesn't involve any walking. You simply don't watch anymore. It's as easy as changing the channel on the TV. Essentially you're commoditizing education. Without a requiring a large investment of cash, all but the most serious students students feel no remorse about walking away.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      And the problem with that is?

      • Re:The article (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gription (1006467) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:32PM (#41490445)
        Exactly!

        Who cares if you have a huge dropout rate? You'll still have a completion rate that is way more then any conventional class and even the dropouts will have learned something.

        The education system has built a big blind process that isn't about learning. It is about the process. If you happen to learn at the rate that the info is fed to you and if the process intersects with your learning style then you are great. If you learn faster or slower or in a different fashion then the accepted process you are screwed.
        • by timeOday (582209)
          Give the article some credit for including facts to support that conclusion:

          Of the 155,000 students who signed up for an MIT course on electronic circuits earlier this year, only 23,000 bothered to finish the first problem set. About 7,000, or 5 percent, passed the course. Shepherding thousands of students through a college class is a remarkable achievement by any measure - typically only about 175 MIT students finish the circuits course each year

          7000 >> 175. QED

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        People see things like this as a good alternative to regular classrooms. There's no problem with online courses and I think things like iTunes U is a great resource. It's when people start talking about making all education online and massive that there's a problem.

        One of the biggest complaints about education is class size, whether it's a kindergarten teacher trying to deal with 30 four year olds or an undergrad professor lecturing to 600 teenagers. Having the professor instead lecture to 100,000 anonym

    • Without a requiring a large investment of cash, all but the most serious students students feel no remorse about walking away.

      I'd say the lack of personal connections attributes to this as well. When I'm in a physical class, I appreciate the personal attention the instructor has given me, and feel a connection with my fellow students. I dropped a course only once, and when I did I actually felt like I was letting them down somehow. When you have 100,000 classmates compared to 10, dropping doesn't seem like such a big deal (especially when you don't have a voice during class time anyway).

    • I see this at the university where I work. Lowered barriers to entry result in a higher turnover. I can't say that out loud, at least until tenure. But it's the truth. If it has a low perceived cost, it's less valuable. Easy come, easy go.
      • by crizh (257304)

        And? So? What?

        If the total number of minds receiving the knowledge increases what's the problem?

        • Unfortunately, in many universities (I teach in Ontario, Canada) government funding is tied to metrics like student retention. My university lets in all kinds of people that shouldn't be there, then blames the faculty members when they drop out or fail courses. We have caps on the percentagle of D's, F's and withdrawals we are 'allowed' to have in a class. In cases where the DFW rate is too high, the adminstration has converted failures to passes and blamed the teacher. The result is grade inflation and pas
    • Re:The article (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Quirkz (1206400) on Friday September 28, 2012 @01:53PM (#41491849) Homepage
      There's also the level of student interest to consider. For some classes, I don't have much interest in doing the homework and "completing" the course. As far as the instructor is concerned, I may be a dropout or a failure, but I can still be getting what I want out of the course -- the lectures, the readings, online discussion -- without completing the components (homework and exams) that a traditional student is required to. I'd never throw away good money on a physical college course that I just wanted to play with, but with a free course I have the freedom to sample what I want without having to fulfill all the requirements of a traditional course.

      One of the online courses I've signed up for (a personal finance class) seems to REALLY get this point. The instructor specifically calls out the different segments of the course and suggests that some students may only be interested in certain topics, and that's perfectly fine with him if they only participate in the parts they want. From the standpoint of a traditional class, it's a "failure" if you only show up for a third of the lectures and only do a third of the homework, but it strikes me as a perfectly acceptable approach with a free online class.

      As more people catch on to that kind of approach, we're going to need other kinds of metrics for determining if students had a satisfying experience from a class, based on things other than a simple "did they pass?"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Focus on knowledge advancement.

    The "honor codes" try to make the desire to share information dishonorable. They promote beating around the bush, and try to penalize clear explanations.

    The "Honor codes" assume that there is only one way to learn. From personal experience, however, I know that I can learn effectively from the discussions of homework questions, which often include the answers. Often the discussions contain clearer explanations than the instructors can provide.

    There's also the question of "rein

  • Browsing MIT OCW (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:12PM (#41490215)
    Interesting that this pops up in my RSS feed just as I'm browsing MIT OCW for a new course to take. I've taken several already, and really enjoy augmenting my knowledge with the course materials. I've also taken most of the Stanford and Udacity courses, so I'm well aware of what they have to offer.

    I'd say the value of these courses is personal growth. I do not see any possibility of using these online courses for any type of credentials, and I certainly wouldn't put my online course experience in front of my actual degree on any sort of resume or job application, but I would say "I have some experience dealing with X." In fact, I doubt I'd have the skills or base knowledge to understand most of the courses I've taken in advanced physics, mechanics, and computer science without my bachelor's degree.
  • by ilsaloving (1534307) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:19PM (#41490289)

    Maybe they could teach how to run a Massive Open Online Business?

    I hear MOOBs are really popular nowadays...

  • by Revotron (1115029) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:20PM (#41490297)
    Ask someone what stops them from going back to school to further their education and you'll get at least one of two responses:

    1. Time
    2. Money

    Spending an hour or two studying at home in the evening is a lot more accessible to most regular working people than driving to their local community college and blowing their whole evening there. Money is also an issue, as taking the course in-person guarantees that you A) have to pay for it, and B) need to drive there which comes with its own costs.

    Free MOOCs take care of 1) and 2) simultaneously, so all things considered, is it really that shocking that they're becoming more popular and in-demand?

    Also,

    'Has technology at last advanced to the point where the revolutionary promise of distance learning can be fulfilled?'"

    Really? Is this an article from the 1980's? Distance learning technology has been sufficiently advanced and accessible for at least 10 years. Just because you don't have anatomically-correct personal telepresence devices in each classroom taking the place of human bodies doesn't mean distance learning technology isn't "advanced" enough. Web-based educational technology is pretty well-developed by now, and in most cases gives you the exact same amount of human interaction as you'd get today with most on-site college classes. By that I mean, if you have a question after you've listened to the professor drone on for an hour with no classroom interaction, you need to send him an email and wait for a response. At that point, the people in the classroom might as well have just stayed home and watched a video lecture in their underpants.

    • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:52PM (#41490719)

      Free MOOCs take care of 1) and 2) simultaneously, so all things considered, is it really that shocking that they're becoming more popular and in-demand?

      But they don't actually solve the goal of advancing your education (education in the credential sense at least). The problem with a class with 100,000 students is you have to grade 100,000 assignments, midterms, exams, etc. in an efficient manner. This completely eliminates all the most valuable assignment types like hands on projects, essays, papers, proofs, group projects, etc. and basically boils down tests and homework to multiple choice. And when your homeworks and tests are multiple choice and available to 100,000 people, you are bound to have some sort of cheating ring. How exactly do you, as an MOOC provider, certify that someone who has completed a course has done so on his own merits? This is a serious problem with the model that has not been solved.

      And even without solving it, in the meantime we still don't know that these multiple-choice courses are actually teaching anybody anything. I didn't have any multiple choice tests or assignments after my freshman year in college, and I can't say I remember anything from any class in which I've done multiple choice work. If MOOCs can't figure out a better homework/test model than multiple choice, I'm not really sure MOOCs will ever match more traditional forms of education.

      • by egoots (557276)

        For programming type classes (Udacity / Coursera) the assignments and tests are actual programming assignments, not multiple choice. The only Multiple choice questions are during the short lecture segments to try and help keep students engaged and reinforce (in a small way) the topic.

        For other course types it is a bit more challenging. I know Coursera was using a peer review system for "Essay" type questions, but I don't have personal experience on how that worked out.

      • That may be easier in a MOOC scenario, but it's pretty rampant at "real" colleges as well. A group of friends and I worked together to create spreadsheets that could answer our physics problems, each one took one one problem and then we traded equations when we were done (the homework used different numbers, but required the same equations). You would then only have to do 1 of 15 problems and the other 14 were provided for you. We were able to use scientific calculators on exams as well, so you just h
        • That you can cheat like you described is a function of the assignment design, not the mode of education, and easily gameable assignment designs are usually a function of class size and instructor resources. I would imagine this physics course was a low level undergraduate course with over 30 students, more likely 100+. In all my physics courses past freshman year, assignments were created from scratch each week and involved a fair amount of creativity in the derivations and proofs. Projects also became more
          • Fair enough. That was a 200 level course at Purdue University for what it's worth. I would concur that later undergrad studies definitely limited easy cheating such as that.
  • by jmerlin (1010641) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:20PM (#41490301)
    Seriously. MOOC? Seriously?
  • There is certainly a threshold below which technology is a fairly likely candidate for your educational problem(the development and widespread availability of the printing press isn't a bad option to designate, though I'm sure one could make an argument for others); but once you hit that point, it seems like the marginal return on throwing additional technology at the problem starts to degrade pretty rapidly until you get into the realm of sci-fi stuff like pedagogical AIs or brain interfaces, or possibly-a

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you just wanna learn, all you need is a good textbook, and some patience.
    Or you could watch a video or read some shit on the internet, or whatever.
    Learning isn't really that hard to come by.

    If, on the other hand, you want to have evidence showing that you do, in fact, know the material, then it gets much trickier.
    It's particularly tricky to automate, since it's intrinsically an arms race between students and testers.

    The usual approach for automating decision problems is heuristic + blacklist + whitelist.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Most people don't want to learn, they want to be taught. Thus the hype about interactive textbooks (the ones with actual stuff you have to read are too boring) and online videos (because reading is hard and listening is just as bad).

      There's this idea that if you just hit on the magic teaching method you'll be able to pour knowledge into people's heads and they can just sit in their lazyboy watching TV, I mean, the computer, and absorb it.

      • That's a bit harsh. Learning is much easier if you're taught.

        In fact, everyone likes learning. Learning is the purest form of mental stimulation, and mental stimulation is the source of the sensation we call "fun". What people don't like is not learning. If a textbook is boring, it's because you're not learning. Most interactive textbooks fail to address this problem, and just add pointless bells and whistles that don't address the problem of poorly paced material. What online education does offer is

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Absolutely. Learning is much easier if your taught, and even easier if you're taught well. Teaching, particularly good teaching, is a service that is limited in supply and I think it should be reserved for people who want to learn. Free education for all (books, videos, etc.) and someone to spend their time helping you do it for those who are willing to put some effort into it. Education should absolutely be publicly funded but should not be free.

          Everyone does not like learning. Yes, it's incredible to me t

          • Everyone does not like learning. Yes, it's incredible to me too, but it seems to be true. Actual scientific studies have shown that the average (adult) person much prefers "learning" things he already "knows" (believes, rather) to learning things he does not. People like watching videos online and saying "ah yes, that confirms what I already knew." Videos that do that, or are designed so that the watcher can *think* they do that, are popular. Videos that challenge incorrect beliefs and confirm that the watcher actually learned something are not.

            Learning is hard. Most people prefer not to do it unless they have a very strong motivation to do so.

            I think you're heading off on a slight tangent here. Yes, confirmation bias is a very real phenomenon. I see it in others all the time, and I recognise it in myself. But my point about everyone liking learning still stands -- the actual process of learning is genuinely, universally enjoyable. Confirmation bias isn't a mechanism that's "more enjoyable" than learning, it's a mechanism that simply blocks us from receiving new information, and prevents the beginning of the learning process. And there is ve

            • by ceoyoyo (59147)

              I didn't mention confirmation bias. Perhaps you're demonstrating a little of what I was talking about. When presented with evidence contrary to your beliefs, unless it's correct interpretation is pressed upon you (which is not enjoyable) you bend it to support (or at least not contradict) what you believe.

  • I didn't see a dropout rate from the Stanford class, but I'd be interested to know if it matches that of the correspondance courses. The article mentions MIT's class with a 5% completion rate. Doesn't sound that great to me. But for 'free education' it's not too bad.
  • by sisukapalli1 (471175) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:42PM (#41490545)

    Here are some reasons, in random order:

    1. The courses are "immersive" with frequent short quizzes, explanation of answers, etc. (in case of udacity, it is almost like once every couple of minutes). This is a big plus compared to correspondence courses.
    2. There is a strong online community, instant access to reference material, forums, discussions, etc., which is a big plus.
    3. Most of the material is free (I do not have any experience with non-free material).
    4. The teachers are top class -- I mean, really top class, and the material they teach is high class and very unique [*].
    5. The classes are massively scalable, archivable, easily made available, etc. (correspondence courses aren't).
    6. There is an Indian saying "knowledge is wealth". So far, the top 1% have rarely helped the bottom 99% (and made them think that they should only "occupy wall street"). The MOOCs help in making the knowledge available to the 99% (turns out, it is a simpler problem to solve than the financial one).

    The only major point people make is with respect to evaluating the credentials of a student who has taken these courses (and any types of cheating)... It is not a problem of the educator -- my belief is that the job of evaluating a candidate is mostly that of the interviewer. Employers that rely on lazy interviews in hiring people help the society at large -- they take away people that game the system out of the pool! And, slashdot should be the last place where education becomes secondary to grades (mind you, there are still grades for the MOOCs, and one can repeat the courses multiple times -- so one actually learns and deserves a top grade).

    [*] To give a perspective, I am old, not from comp.sci background, didn't know python as of January (and have been destined to amount to nothing much!). I completed two courses on Udacity (CS101 -- thinking they'd focus on search, but they taught me python; and Peter Norvig's course). I had a phone interview with a "big deal" company where I gave a one-line answer based on what Peter Norvig taught [which impressed the interviewer -- and I explained him that their guy taught me the stuff]. I also took a course with Tim Roughgarden on Algorithms, and that helped me re-discover the joy of math and formal treatment of problems. I met him [Roughgarden] recently when he was visiting a nearby university, and his point was, if someone spends one hour on his class and learns something, he is more than happy. Without these courses, I'd still be wondering, "where did I screw up". Not any more.

  • by cpghost (719344) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:43PM (#41490551) Homepage
    I hate repeating myself [slashdot.org], but what's this craze to attribute someone with such a reputation as Peter Norvig merely to his current employer? He's much more than a mere Google employee, IMHO. Can't we credit people with their real achievements instead of their employers?
    • by timeOday (582209)
      It's oddly topical in this case, since getting hired by a selective company is a form of accreditation - just like a degree from prestigious school.
  • It takes time to hone courses and online teaching methodologies into effective systems of education, so it's no huge surprise if the quality is below standard at the moment.

    That first AI course of Thrun and Norvig's was nothing short of a didactic disaster, full of unexplained inconsistencies in the material, very limited coverage of the area, and no effective authoritative means of answering queries and misunderstandings. The many online fora were just the blind leading the blind. In summary, it was not

    • by Quirkz (1206400)
      Yep, I've seen a number of different bugs and errors in my classes. A bad video here, a broken link there, misconfigured test answers that have to be fixed, small outages for which they extend deadlines, and a couple of email notices sent either too late or sent twice. Most of this stuff is relatively minor. I'd be a little nervous if I had a college degree hinging on these things and I'd paid a lot for them, but for free personal education I'm perfectly content to relax and just run with it as they work ou
  • I know two women well, my wife, and a family friend. My family friend got a credential attending Phoenix University, while my wife is getting the same credential attendance a California State University. The University my wife is attending is a mid-range school, nothing particularly special, and definitely not a first tier school.

    The difference between the two is rather stark. Wife is easily passing exams for accreditation that Family Friend (a very sharp gal, mind you) struggles with, making multiple attem

  • College has become far more about the degree than the experience, sadly. You can meet scores of graduates that have shining transcripts and dismal educations. And this is one of the reason the cost is so obscene -- as Thomas Frank said, "An annual pass to Disneyland would also cost $54,000 if society believed that what it took to make you eligible for success was a great many hours spent absorbing the subtle lessons of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage."

    Until there is prestige associated with online learn

    • Aphorism's like Frank's sound so smart because they're glib. The value of a university education is not just based on belief. Yes, Charles Murray and other conservatives really, really want you to believe that. And they will flat-out state that we need more ditch-diggers and fewer college-educated people. But the wealthy aren't lining up to become ditch-diggers, so what they're talking about is reducing opportunities for upward mobility. But, the value? Well, how do you measure it? What do you measure? If
  • Article by a professor who took the course along with a small group:

    http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2012/8/153817-will-massive-open-online-courses-change-how-we-teach/fulltext

  • Nicholas Carr offering a "balanced overview" of anything?

    Extraordinary.
  • The old degree system needs reworking.

    It need to move to a more of trades / tech / badges like system.

    The older systems is in big blocks loaded with lot's of fluff and filler and is slow to update to new ideas in fast moving areas.

    in a older colleges lot's of the teaching staff has been in education for all of life and have little real world experience of what they are teaching in some areas.

    We need a system that is

    * not tied to the college time table.
    * is open to drop in / continuing education
    * more skills

  • After taking a few courses from Coursera, a high dropout rate is not surprising. The CS courses are mainly math courses in disguise, which works when you are teaching CS students at the high end of the intelligence spectrum, like at Stanford and other top-tier colleges, but simply loses most students otherwise. Even the NLP course was very focused on the mathematical models, much less so on the linguistics.

    I suppose many might say it's not computer science without the math, but you can still teach mu
  • One think I've noticed so far, it seems that pretty much all the courses on offer are introductory. And when you think about the drop out rate, this kinda makes sense. If only 10% of people starting your course finishes it, what's the point of putting up a follow-up course? Already the market for that course is tiny in comparison to the introductory course. You can probably expect a lower drop-out rate on the follow-up course, but it'll be less than 100%. And not even all the students finishing your first c

  • The answer to this is an obvious YES. For MOOCs like Udacity or even Codecademy, the lessons are free. That's really all that's needed to make it different, but there's more to it than that. Students can communicate with each other and get feedback much more easily and quickly than with 1920's correspondence courses too.
  • You don't need a course to be a "MOOC". In America many Universities offer videos of their lectures and some offer notes and exercises too. Buy the textbook - secondhand, show some gritm put aside the time and you can learn anything. If you get stuck there are forums like 'mad scientists' where people will help you. Connect with others interested in learning the same thing. If you get stuck on a particular concept, check another textbook for an alternate explanation or check out Kahn Academy. Many tutors po

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