The traditional education system is still reluctantly adapting to the needs of modern students in respect of time, mobility, flexibility and, of course, availability. One expensive educational program for three or more years cannot always give the knowledge, which is actually interesting and relevant. Therefore, it is no wonder that online training gains popularity around the world. Today, irrespective of the degree of readiness and financial opportunities, people have access to knowledge of all areas: it is enough to have a laptop and Internet connection.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) made a breakthrough in online education, when in 2001 it begun to post freely accessible courses on the Internet. The project under the name MIT Open Course Ware (MIT OCW) is an open resource of courses, lectures and tasks, which constitute the educational base of the university. 2 thousand courses published by 2010 make about 80% of the institute’s training program. Today, the number of posted courses makes 2,4 thous. The recently added disciplines include «Bioinformatics», «Aeronautics», «Architecture», «Gender research», «Anthropology» and others.
According to the statistical data of the project’s website, 43% of audience are independent listeners. It is more than 42% of students and other learners.
As the cost of one academic year in MIT is about $63 thous, free courses of one of the best technological universities of the world became an example of not only generosity, but also the idea of availability of knowledge to everyone.
Other world’s leading universities have also followed the example of MIT; MOOC platforms began to be created at that time. MOOC or Massive open online courses are mass open online courses that appeared in 2008 and became an interactive form of distance learning. Video lectures and training materials were added with interactive features for communication with the group and teachers.
Today MOOC platforms include Edx, Udacity, Udemy, Coursera and other websites with both free and paid training content. In recent years, about 800 universities posted more than 8 thousand courses on MOOC platforms worldwide. Many of these courses are independent (self-paced). That means independence of the period of passing the course – the discipline can be studied at any convenient time.
Here are some of the most popular MOOC platforms:
Courserа.org – an educational platform founded in 2012 by professors of Stanford University. Is the leader in online education, as it works with 115 educational institutions, including Stanford, Yale, Princeton universities, and also the universities of Moscow for Russian-speaking listeners. It is possible to submit an application for paid studying of programs of master’s degree on the website and to gain full-fledged diplomas.
EdX is a MOOC platform created together with Harvard. The difference of EdX from Coursera is its non-commercial focus and the open source code. Today, 1,6 thousand courses from Harvard, MIT, Microsoft and other institutes are available for studying. The audience of the platform totals to 12 million users worldwide.
Udacity is a private educational platform aimed at computer technologies and programming. Here it is possible to study a course on artificial intelligence, web development, machine learning, nanotechnologies and many other disciplines.
Among large-scale MOOC platforms, the following ones cannot go without mention: Udemy, Codecademy, Future Learn, UMass Boston Open Courseware, Academic Earth, Open Learning, TED, Khan Academy and others.
Creation of MOOC platforms becomes a popular practice in all countries. Russian training services are available to those who do not speak English: Netologiya, Universarium, Intuitionist, Lectorium, HTML Academy, Yandex School and others.
Courses of OpenU.kz educational platform became available to those interested to gain knowledge in Kazakh language. «Open University of Kazakhstan» offers 80% of unique content in the state language on informatics, physics, mathematics, web programming, robotics and also business planning, administration, etc. The number of registered participants of OpenU.kz has reached 1013 people.
Online education still does not replace the traditional diploma in the labor market, but its prerequisites are already noticeable. The concept of openness and availability of information to everyone becomes more and more natural. And advantages of independent and individually planned training surpass the traditional visits to audiences and lecture halls. Online courses will become more and more interesting, practice-focused and interactive. Certificates on having followed the courses of prestigious higher education institutions will favorably supplement the curriculum vitae of the applicants.
Digital technologies and the Internet are designed to improve people’s life. As practice of online education shows, they give us very important things: availability and freedom of choice.