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Are There MOOCs in South Africa?

If you are interested in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and you want to know whether MOOCs are available in South Africa, rest assured that this online method of learning is available everywhere nowadays. MOOCs were initially popularized in the US and Canada, however, you must remember that it was also Stellenbosch University that implemented its first MOOC on the British-based MOOC platform, FutureLearn.

Let's understand what a MOOC is a little more. MOOCs combine social networking,  online resources, and chat forums to formulate a well-rounded course. These courses are always facilitated by practitioners who are leaders in their field of study.

Initially, MOOC's were only seen as being an effective online learning solution for undergraduate and postgraduate students as MOOC's taught courses such as Teaching for a Change: An African Philosophical Approach which is meant specifically for university students studying teaching, interested in teaching, or for those who have studied teaching.

At first glance, it would seem that these open online courses mainly focus on providing undergraduate and postgraduate level courses.

Having said that, does that mean that there are no MOOCs for primary school children at all?

Can all children find online courses
There are some online platforms that offer online courses for primary school or high school learners. Source: Unsplash

We look at MOOCs a little deeper, finding a meaning for a MOOC and understanding who can reap the benefits from MOOCs.

These are the advantages of online learning.

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MOOC Meaning

What is a MOOC?

Simply put, MOOC involves teaching a specific course but making sure that this course is published online digitally.

When MOOCs first came onto the scene, all of the courses offered were live lessons. However, as MOOCs gained fame, many pre-recorded video courses began to surface. The major difference is the first few online courses that were conducted live were far more interactive than the courses that are pre-recorded.

Looking at a MOOC more deeply
A MOOC is basically taking a free online course created with the students' needs in mind. Source: Unsplash

Massive Open Online Courses are created by collaborating with universities so you can expect to find MOOCS that entails:

  • Videos of a professor teaching a certain subject to the students
  • Powerpoint presentations to enhance the lessons
  • Exercises to test whether the content that was taught was grasped or not
  • Forums or chats

Taking It Back To When MOOCs came about

Prior to MOOCs making an appearance on the online learning scene, people who wanted to learn from a distance had to take courses using snail mail. The introduction of MOOCs meant a complete metamorphosis in terms of how people learnt online and remotely.

When did Massive Open Online Courses become a thing?  In the year 2008, it was the first year when this learning experience was offered at Athabasca University in Canada. While Canada started teaching via Massive Open Online Courses, the world followed suit.

Again, there is much debate on the actual date of the first MOOC and who gave the suggestion to share these courses with everyone in the world.

It was actually MIT University (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in the United States that broadcasted the use of educational online resources for learning.

Irrespective of where the first MOOC started, popular universities have decided to provide MOOCs and these universities are Harvard, Berkeley, Princeton, Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge.

How to do Online Learning?

In order to understand how to learn online, you must remember that whether you are a schoolchild or a university student plays a big role. Attending university is a big commitment on the part of the student. You need to take learning into your own hands and be accountable for completing tasks and assignments. Before you start an online course of this caliber, you should take an introductory course to learn what to expect in university. EdX, Udacity, Khan Academy, and Coursera are all offering a variety of online introductory to university courses.

Online learning courses allow students to:

  • Learn work during school vacations
  • Learn vital skills needed to become an independent and accountable learner
  • Get enrichment in terms of content learnt in a specific subject
  • Get ahead of learning and may even challenge hard-working learners to think beyond their comfort zones
Advantages of MOOCs
There are many advantages of taking online courses like further support and enrichment. Source: Unsplash

With online learning, you must remember that you structure the learning at your own pace. Many online courses allow you to interact with other students and ask them any questions that you may have.

For younger children, platforms like Khan Academy works well to prove the academy's slogan, "You can learn anything. For free. For everyone. Forever."

When you are using an online platform like Khan Academy, you need to know that all resources are easily accessible. You can find any resource that you are looking for with a simple search.

You can also gain access to videos whenever you want to perfect your understanding of a concept. The fun part of Khan's academy is that you need to complete exercises and tasks after you watch a video. Completing exercises opens up bonuses and rewards that will enable you to learn more.

While Khan Academy is meant specifically for primary and high school learners, the traditional MOOC structure does not align with the High School and Primary School childrens' maturity. Children of this age group still need to be assisted in learning and cannot be left alone to learn.

While you may be eager to take control of your learning, sometimes it's best to rope in a tutor to assist with your learning process. Here are some of the disadvantages of online learning.

How to Benefit from Online Learning?

You can reap many benefits from studying by using a MOOC. Let's look at some of the advantages that online learning offers.

You can access a MOOC for free. All you need to do is find the platform where a MOOC is hosted and you can take the MOOC for free. If you want to reap the benefits of a certain course at 9 o clock at night, you can. There is no restriction as to when you can access a course. You can access a course while you are on holiday as well. You simply need a PC., Ipad, or tablet to gain access to a free MOOC.

So while you can choose the most convenient time to access a MOOC, you must complete a course within the designated time frame. Courses remain live for a certain amount of time only so if you want to access a course once it's finished, you need to wait until it goes live again.

So how do you benefit from a MOOC?

A MOOC puts the responsibility in your hands to guide your own learning. You are accountable for making sure you make the most of the free learning course offered to you. The onus is on you to complete assignments and meet the respective deadlines. No one is checking up with you so you need to take ownership and full control of your learning.

MOOCs have over the years gained recognition. This means that it still is as if you have gone to a university for a course if you attended a MOOC and completed all the required assessments. There is hope that eventually a completed MOOC may gain you a degree.

MOOCs that you could try include:

  • Udemy
  • Coursera
  • Udacity
  • FutureLearn
  • edX

While the above-listed MOOCs are mostly for university students of an undergraduate or postgraduate level, you can also take an online course if you are in primary or high school. Khan Academy offers online courses on certain topics for primary and high school students. Khan Academy offers academic support to students of all ages and continues to exist mainly because of donations offered to the online institution.

MOOCs are known as the start of online education specifically catering to university students. More MOOCs are, however, starting to focus on the learning needs of primary and secondary school children.

With so many advances in online courses, there will come a time when online courses can encourage teamwork, collaborative effort, and group assignment completion. Do you think this is possible?

MOOCs may help teamwork
It seems future courses will allow for a collaborative effort. Source: Unsplash

Well, with time you will actually see if this is a possibility or not.

MOOCs are offering support that extends beyond the classroom walls using unconventional teaching methods to teach concepts and improve student's understanding of subject content.

You have got to admit that most students can't benefit from this unconventional learning environment. It is advisable to always hire a tutor to assist you during your learning journey. Havings someone assisting you with learning is always helpful and to a certain extent motivational as well. Knowing someone is checking your progress and performance makes you all the more willing to do well.

If you need more support than that offered by MOOCs, perhaps look towards hiring a Superprof tutor. There are suitable tutors available on the site to assist you in every subject that you may need help with. 

Did you know that tutors on the Superprof site, cater to all your learning needs, not only to your academic needs? With Superprof tutors, you can learn how to dance, do yoga, play the guitar, etc.

Do you think face-to-face tutoring is effective or would you rather prefer an online tutor?

You may want to try face-to-face tutoring if you are already partaking in an open online course.

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Laila

Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.

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