Whether you’re looking to advance your own education or support the interests of learners you’re working with, if you’re a tutor or a teacher you’re probably interested in massive open online courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are proliferating by leaps and bounds – but how do you know what’s available? Jumping around to all the providers’ websites would be time-consuming and confusing.
In line with the accelerating expansion of the “MOOC-o-sphere,” several new “directory” websites have emerged to guide learners towards the MOOC content they’re interested in. One blogger likened the use of these MOOC-finding directories to a diner in an unfamiliar city turning to Yelp for guidance. Also similar to Yelp, some of these sites let learners review a MOOC after they’ve taken it; the aggregate of everyone’s opinions hopefully results in a more useful information source.
Here are some of the growing number of MOOC directories currently available:
1) Class Central
Class Central is a free “MOOC aggregator” that references free online courses from top providers like Stanford, Harvard, MIT and others. It gathers data from Coursera, Udacity, edX, Canvas Network and similar sources. This extremely simple site lists courses in a large table, sorted by basic parameters like “future courses” (the largest category), “just announced,” “starting soon,” and “self paced.” A bare-bones search bar lets you look for courses in your areas of interest. The vast majority of courses relate to computers and programming, with few or none in areas like “religion” and “anthropology.”
CourseTalk is a bit more sophisticated and user-friendly than Class Central. It organizes courses by ratings/popularity, subject area, university offering the class, and more. Each listing in the table includes information about the university and professor offering the course. This aggregator site also includes smaller providers like Codeacademy, in addition to the major MOOC providers like Coursera. And overall it seems to reference a fair number of Humanities courses from a wide range of universities like Duke, UPenn and the University of Michigan.
Calling itself “your portal to discover, review and follow thousands of online learning materials in any subject,” Knollop offers learners an excellent overview of each course offered, including its “characteristics” (does it encompass video lectures, written material, homework/tests, etc.; does it provide a certification), reviews of the course and a summary of “what you will learn.” Though still at Beta release level, this site is easy-to-use and visually appealing.
CourseBuffet seems to be looking to differentiate itself by offering more courses to choose from (over 500, which is certainly more than some of the other sites listed here). CourseBuffet also assigns each course a “difficulty level,” with the goal of making it easier for learners to find and compare similar courses, and to move more easily from introductory to more advanced material within a subject area – potentially a big help. There’s also a “save and show” function that lets you keep track of interesting courses from multiple providers in one place, after you’ve created a free account. An online transcript feature showing a list of MOOCs a person has taken (through CourseBuffet) is in the works.
With significant web development and IT resources going into these sites, the question arises: how do they make money? There is no overt advertising on any of the sites. Perhaps the sale of student mailing list info to certification companies and others could be a revenue source?
Indeed, with MOOCs themselves being largely free, how are Coursera and others going to turn a profit or break even, once venture funding and other forms of startup capitalization run out? One way to generate income could be to charge for certificates. Universities might also charge a reasonable fee for a MOOC certificate.
One way that MOOC providers are seeking to leverage for revenues is “employee-matching” (aka headhunting). Coursera recently became the first MOOC provider to offer “career services” that will match participating students with subscribing companies.
If you’ve taken one or more MOOCs, how did you locate and choose the course(s)?
Featured image courtesy of spreadshirt.com.
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