Recently, I decided to embark on a quest to broaden my knowledge on a new topic that is completely unrelated to my job or career. After looking around for short-term courses offered by local universities, I stumbled on to Coursera. And within no time, I enrolled myself into a course on Operations Management conducted by a Professor from the Wharton Business School! I couldn’t believe my luck and I was imagining how my niece and nephew will one day proudly proclaim that their uncle completed a course from the Wharton Business School. I was on a high. But the high lasted exactly 3 weeks. Work pressures and other commitments derailed my efforts to complete this course and its all curtains for now.
Not withstanding the rather disappointing turn of events, I am very impressed by what MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have accomplished in a short time frame. They are opening up opportunities for professionals as well as students in ways that was never thought possible. Anybody can sign up for a course in Coursera and all it takes is good bandwidth and persistence to complete the course. I see MOOCs as the way forward to opening up quality higher education to the large section of the population that cannot afford to go to premier schools.
I also happen to listen to Knowledge @ Wharton podcast in iTunes. Here is an interview with Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera (as heard in the podcast). Koller discusses the MOOC model in-depth and throws light on certain key data that reflects the current usage patters. Interesting interview indeed.