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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
JDC - Thu Jan 23, 2014 @ 01:27PM
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          Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and badges provide organizations and professionals an alternative solution to the high costs of workforce training and continuing education. They play a crucial role in the innovation portion of the President’s Plan to Make College More Affordable and are being utilized by top universities and organizations such as the Veteran’s Affairs supported program: Badges for Vets.

          Massive Open Online Courses are free online classes available for anyone to enroll. There are three main platforms for MOOCs: Coursera, Edx and Udacity. Each website lists hundreds of courses from expert practitioners and universities, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Duke, and MIT. A typical class requires students to follow a timed curriculum including reading assignments, video lectures, quizzes and a final exam. Those interested in earning a certification must pass the quizzes and exam before earning a certification.

          The initial goal of MOOCs was simply to bring down education barriers and provide anyone with an Internet connection the opportunity to learn. As MOOCs have evolved the process of certification has come to forefront. MOOCs require time and effort to complete and those who do complete them need tangible ways to apply them to their professional careers.

          Udacity, Coursera, and Edx have all been working to authenticate their certification processes. Most courses available through the platform will allow the student to receive a certificate upon completion of the course. As a way to further authenticate this process more courses are offering the option of paying a small fee to have the certification verified or even apply the coursework to college credit.

          Mozilla, in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation, has taken the certification process one step further with the creation of virtual badges. The purpose of the badges is to provide a holistic view of the professional by looking at an individual’s entire learning ecosystem. Mozilla’s Open Badges website provides a platform for earning, issuing and displaying badges. The credibility of the badges is verified through a digital hyperlink showing the issuing organization and all criteria met to earn certification. Badges allow professionals to show exactly how proficient they are in both specific skills such as HTML or foreign language as well as more difficult to define skills such as those learned through volunteering or military service. Bob Wise of the Alliance for Excellent Education states “Badges bridge the divide between formal and informal education, and they have the power to transform competency-based learning and hiring practices.”

          MOOCs and badges create a mutual beneficial relationship between organizations and professionals. Money is saved on workforce training and higher-level employees do not have to spend as much time leading in-person trainings, and recruiters are able to choose candidate with the specific abilities they desire. In turn, professionals are able to more articulately present a holistic view of their skill set and showcase their intellectual curiosity and desire for life-long learning.


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About the Author: Kathryn Bly is a Lint Center volunteer - See more at: http://lintcenter.info/blog/entry/3705812/usa-cyber-warrior-scholarship-for-it-security#sthash.Oanihfuv.dpuf

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