What is a MOOC? MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. This recent phenomena is “viralling” all over the web at an unprecedented rate. It is a form of part time distance learning accessible to everyone from professionals to students. MOOCs generally are free to all, though some courses offer a verified certificate for a small fee. World class universities are taking part including Harvard, MIT, Berkley, University of Tokyo, Edinburgh and many more. The ultimate vision in providing this service is to provide the highest standards of education to anyone, anywhere in the world.
The laying down of fibre optics across Harare, and the free access to some of the main MOOC sites by Econet as part of their EconetZero program are a good foundation to build on. It is an opportunity for Zimbabwe and other developing countries to start the transition from being solely resource based economies into knowledge based economies as many developed nations are. There is a huge range of subjects to choose from, such as solar technology, bio industries, computer science, business, sociology, art and music.
Most of the courses only take a few weeks to complete, with participants working a few hours a week. The courses are developed by top flight academics, trainers and global industry leaders. The options are numerous, and many are relevant key industries needing a boost in Zimbabwe such as health, agriculture and technology.
The specificity and flexibility of MOOCs means someone can take courses that align exactly with their interests. For example, a budding developer might study Android app design and be able to build straight away, saving the time and expense of a four year general computer science degree. Traditional studies can also be augmented with MOOCs enhancing your CV and giving you a competitive edge over peers in the same area. School and university students can also find courses to assist them in their studies or exams.
MOOCs are changing the dynamics of education, and could potentially grow in the future into a worldwide, free education system from preschool to PhD level.