In the education world, 2012 could be called the year of the MOOC. The silly-sounding acronym, short for massive open online courses, covers a new breed of online classes that is shaking up the higher education world in ways that could be good for cash-strapped students. That’s because the classes are free and open to any student anywhere. MOOCs first made waves in the fall of 2011 when then-Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun—inspired by the free video tutorials Salman Khan has been making for k-12 students—put his graduate-level artificial intelligence course online, opened it up to the public, and 160,000 people in more than 190 countries signed up for the free class. In January, Thrun launched Udacity, a private company with a dozen online-only courses that students can complete at their own pace. A similar startup, created by two Stanford computer-science professors, called Coursera, launched in April and now boasts nearly three dozen major university partners, including Columbia, Duke and Princeton. The third major player in this space, edX, was launched in May by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. It’s hard to say what the long-term impact of MOOCs will be—more than a million students have enrolled in them, but completion rates are low. Perhaps what will motivate more students to finish is increasing the likelihood that these online courses will help people get a job.
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Top 10 Education Stories
- 10. Go, Fight, Win: Texas Cheerleaders and the B-I-B-L-E
- 9. The Rise of the Digital Textbook
- 8. Harvard’s Cheating Scandal
- 7. Shaming the For-Profit Colleges
- 6. Bypassing No Child Left Behind
- 5. The Ever-Worsening Student Loan Crisis
- 4. UVA President Ousted—Then Reinstated
- 3. Malala and the Fight for Girls’ Education Worldwide
- 2. Chicago Teachers Hit the Picket Lines
- 1. Planet of the MOOCs
Top 10 U.S. News Stories
- 10. The American Energy Boom
- 9. The Grim Toll of Military Suicides
- 8. Obama’s Gay Marriage Awakening
- 7. The Fall of Gen. David Petraeus
- 6. Amnesty for the Undocumented?
- 5. Mayhem at Aurora and Oak Creek
- 4. The Killing of Trayvon Martin
- 3. ‘Obamacare’ Upheld
- 2. Hurricane Sandy
- 1. President Obama Reelected to Fix a Struggling Economy