MOOCs, short for Massive Online Open Courses, are aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. They are courses taken over-the-internet designed for hundreds or thousands of learners, integrating the connectivity of social networking, the facilitation of an expert in a field of study and a collection of freely accessible online resources, running in contradistinction with courses taken in conventional brick-and-mortar lecture rooms or campuses.
Among other things, MOOCs facilitate an unrestrained window for citizens of the world to get equal access to quality education, in light of the failings of the current system, which is evident in the number of uneducated persons in today’s world- stat of uneducated persons in the world.
The University of Stanford offered the first course on a computer network in 1962, and that marked the beginning of internet-based study programmes. It was not however until 2011 that MOOCs rose into prominence at Stanford University where an open online course in artificial intelligence attracted over 160,000 students from more than 190 countries. The success of this experiment owed largely to the heightened fraction of persons who acquired internet-enabled devices during this period leading to an increased online presence worldwide. According to the New York Times, 2012 became “the year of the MOOC” as numerous financially-capable MOOC providers affiliated with top universities emerged including, edX, Coursera, Udemy, ALISON, Open2Study and many more.
Few MOOC providers abound in Nigeria including Azure Tutors, UTIVA, UNILAG MOOC, NOUN MOOC offering a number of specialized courses.
Azure Tutors offers free and paid online courses in Communication, Photography, Business, and Digital Media with their pricing formular ranging from N200- N20,000 for paid courses.
UTIVA, for instance, is focused on ‘helping college students in sub-Saharan Africa build skills that make them talented and highly skilled human resources to employers globally’ with trainings in work-place or business related soft skills like Project Management, Corporate Leadership and many more, combining physical face-to-face classes with online ones, all for free.
The University of Lagos in conjunction with Tsinghua University, China currently offers about 19 MOOCs across different fields, all for free.
NOUN which is notable for its free online resources, also maintains an MOOC on the history of philosophy of science.
Apparently, Nigerian MOOC providers need to heighten their publicity in order to expand their audience. Lots of Nigerians enroll for MOOCs offered by foreign providers due majorly to the massive publicity and ads done by the latter. An upscale in publicity by local MOOC providers will make Nigerians more aware of their services and consequently patronize them.
Also, Nigerian MOOC providers need to offer a local variety of generic courses capitalizing on the local content and resources available, for use to their advantage. To further cement themselves as heavyweights in the market, local MOOC providers can take the extra step of advocating/fighting for a nationwide recognition of their credentials/certificates similar to that of traditional educational institutions. The future is already here, we need to brace for its impact.
By Sharomi Ridwan, Content Writer at DigiLaw