MOOCs - Greatest Online Distractions, Ever?

Beth Dumbauld

MOOCSBy Beth Dumbauld

What are MOOCs? MOOCs are massive open online courses. MOOCs are free lecture-based courses available online from some of the world’s most well-known colleges and universities. These free college courses are distributed without limit online and are available to any person, anywhere in the world.

MOOCs are free and we all know that free is a good thing, right? Well let’s think this concept through. Free educational access is certainly a noble thing; we all deserve access to a college education no matter where we live or our economic circumstance. Yet, free access to online classes doesn’t necessarily translate into the achievement of academic goals, particularly if your goal is earning your college degree.

MOOCs - Greatest Online Distractions, Ever?

For many, the availability and ubiquity of MOOCs may act as noble distractions. After all, it can be far more tempting to sign-up for a robotics course taught by a professor at Stanford or MIT than taking a prerequisite physics course required for your engineering degree. But guess what? Completing that physics course for credit will take you one step closer to your engineering degree and put your dream career of building robots of your own into reach. If you are a degree seeker or employee looking to advance your career, enrolling in MOOCs can provide you with free access to college-level academics, but it can’t provide you with a clear path to earning your college degree. In other words, MOOCs are all yin, but no yang.

By definition, MOOCs are designed to bring educational material to the masses (emphasis on Massive Open Online Courses), a philosophical principle embraced by the consortium of colleges and universities who participate in distributing MOOCs online. When it comes to the practical, to the now, of earning a college degree and entering a professional career – it can be far more helpful to have a clearly defined path than a philosophy to follow. StraighterLine provides that clearly defined path.

MOOCs are for Students with Good Intentions; Taking Online College Courses for Credit are for Students with Goals

What are your professional goals? What are your educational goals? Are your educational goals in alignment with your professional goals? Do you even know what academic route you need to take in order to achieve your professional goals?

The appeal of signing up for MOOCs is that they are a way to access education materials without incurring any risks. MOOCs don’t hold you accountable. In fact, you don’t have to hold yourself accountable when participating in a MOOC. If you finish a MOOC -- hurrah for you! You might get a badge of completion. If you don’t finish, at least you can comfort yourself with your good intentions – but have you ever tried to frame a good intention? Have you ever passed off a chronological list of good intentions on your resume as reason to hire you? Probably not. The real world just doesn’t work that way.

In the real world, you are most likely taking college courses online for a specific set of reasons and tangible set of outcomes. For example, your employer might require that you take college courses for credit in subject areas as varied as business and accounting or physiology and chemistry in order to be eligible for a promotion. Or you might be looking to earn a college degree in order to enter a professional field. Smart move. Most professional careers these days require a college degree in order to be even considered for a position. In this case, taking a free college course with no predictable career or degree path in mind won’t do you, or your goals, very much good.

In the real world, when time is money, taking free online colleges classes, including reputable MOOCS, might possibly end up being a colossal waste of time – and therefore a colossal waste of your money. Adult learners with competing sets of responsibilities need a clear path towards earning their degree. Distractions, no matter how well presented or thought-through, are not helpful during a time of academic or career recalibration. Spending massive amounts of time in colleges courses that can’t earn college credit will only slow you down and distract you from your academic and career goals. After all, there’s a real cost to opportunity costs.

Are You a Student with a Plan? StraighterLine Can Help You Reach Your Goals

StraighterLine offers the most common college prerequisite courses for the most popular degrees. What’s more, you don’t have to waste your time figuring out what do next after you finish a course. StraighterLine provides you with degree-based career paths in:

StraighterLine courses are guaranteed to transfer to partner colleges without an intermediary. After completing StraighterLine courses, you can work directly with a StraighterLine student advisor to transfer those courses directly to your partner college of choice per our partnership agreements. Alternatively, if you are looking at transferring your StraighterLine courses to a college outside of our partner college network, StraighterLine courses are eligible to receive ACE Credit. Through ACE, you are eligible to transfer your courses to over 1800 colleges.

MOOCs may be fancy and free, but StraighterLine courses will help you reach your goals one prerequisite course at a time.

Beth Dumbauld is a writer who is passionate about helping others save money and time. She received her MBA from the University of Colorado and currently lives near Cincinnati, Ohio.

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