Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Professional Development

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By Mohamed Okash

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a new learning model based on web technologies content learning or virtual classrooms that is available to any student who wants to take any course. Everyone around the globe can quickly develop his/her skills almost for free.

In 2014, approximately 36% of global employers’ reported that many job positions remain vacant due to talent crisis or absence of needed skills (Samans, Zahidi, Keveloh et al., 2015). Therefore, MOOCs will probably be the solution for professional development and employment talent crisis.

With Massive Open Online Courses, individuals can develop their specific professions and attain certificates of accomplishment-free of charge. With its key feature: “open access”, anyone can participate in the course for free although learners receive no credit. The courses are aimed to help indefinite numbers of students who might not access this knowledge and skills during regular classes. According to Educate, MOOC learning activities could be synchronous (working or moving at the same rate) and asynchronous (one character at a time). Some courses are self-biased, and others are not so that the students can choose either of them.

“The term Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) was first introduced in 2008 by Dave Cormier to describe Siemens and Downes’ Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course” (Yuan and Powell, 2013). This course was initially for more than 20 participants enrolled for credit with fee payment, and over 2,300 people participated in the course without paying fees or gaining credit. In 2011, Stanford released access of such “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” courses that attracted hundreds of thousands of students around the world (Wikipedia, 2015). Notable MOOC platforms include Courser a, ALISON, Edx and many others. In fact, MOOC a new ecology of learning in today’s world is gearing towards skill development.

Everyone can take a course through a device: computer, tablet, or smartphones anywhere. The students can join and participate in any classes with no payment and no credit. They only should submit course’s activates, which might involve watching videos, reading Powerpoints/ PDFs, Submitting quizzes/ assignments, posting discussion boards and commenting via social media platforms (Educuase, 2011). Learners must have internet connection since the class is virtual or online. Course materials downloaded, activities uploaded or submitted. Without an internet connection, it is impossible for online class presence. Also, learners must show commitment. The same as physical classes, the success of online courses needs total commitment.

Coursera, a prominent MOOC platform, offers many required different field courses including Personal Development, Entrepreneurship, Social Sciences, Humanities and so on, those aim for skills upgrading. For example, Academic English Writing had been offering by the University of California, Irvin through Coursera is extremely important for secretaries, researchers, journalists, students and many others. Most of developing nations’ education system lacks well-designed curriculum that can produce a highly skilled labor force to the market so that MOOCs can be a solution for skills upgrading. Sometimes employers lookout for some specific skills, those can be learned on MOOC. Some skills become absolute, and others emerge. Importance of some skills varies from organization to organization or country to country. “Cloud and distributed computing skills have surged to the top of 2015’s list. While it was a sought for skill in a few countries up until now, there has been a massive increase in members listing this skill on their profile” (LinkedIn, 2015). Furthermore, MOOC learners earn certificates of accomplishments after passing all course activities.

Furthermore, MOOC is a win/win solution for both Job seekers and employers. A significant number of Jobseekers advances their careers from MOOC platforms. 2014, the survey was conducted by Coursera and its partners which discovered “Fifty-two percent of leaners said they took courses to develop their career.

Finally, MOOC can be the best alternative for a business leader to train their employees. Typically, a job in training is expensive regarding cost and time. If employers encourage their staffs to advance their career through MOOCs, this will change the productivity of their business. Building career for a new job or in the post and recruiting talented teams is easy to achieve MOOCs.

In conclusion, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was innovation in ICT in Education which dramatically changed the way of learning. The Notable platforms include Edx, Coursera, Khan Academy, Udacity, Udemy, Alison, and others.  MOOC is easily accessible and free to everyone, anywhere, anytime, on any subject. Finally, MOOC is the solution for those who are seeking a new job, a promotion, or starting a new business.

Somali Business Review, publication of SIMAD University was where this article was first released.| Volume 9, Issue 2, April-June 2016

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