Tag Archives: MOOC

What this boy did with MOOCs will Amaze You

MOOCs are an amazing gift to everyone around the world who takes advantage of them. It’s not easy to stay motivated to a course that offers little more than a real education if you keep up with the work. If you do not pay for the certificate then all you have is the letter grade of completion but no official word that you took the course and met the requirements.

Going to School Online
You hear advertisements all the time now about how you can go back to school on your own time by signing up for online courses that fit your schedule. Many people will look at these advertisements against their own schedule and think that they can fit in an hour or two here and there and get an education at the same time. Unfortunately it does not work like that. The drop out rate for online courses is very high and the reason for that is that most people are just not used to thinking like a student anymore.

Signing up for a course online that only has one or two hourly sessions may not seem like much in the beginning but you have to remember you still need to study the material from the book and understand it. That takes planning and time in order to pass the material, and if you do not understand what you are reading, then who do you turn to for help? It’s one thing if you have a support system in place where you are taking the course with someone else to help keep you motivated but it’s another if you do not. When you have the right support structure in place, MOOCs are pure gold.

Third-World Setting
In a place where most kids play at home, in an area that is mostly rural, lives a boy who has managed to catch the eye of M.I.T. for the work he has done on his own, but with the help of some amazing resources. His name is Battushig Myanganbayar and he passed Circuits and Electronics from one of M.I.T.s online courses with a perfect score, something only 350 students were able to do out of 150,000 who registered in the beginning. Oh, and he was only 15 at the time.

The course was free and open to anyone with an internet connection that was interested in learning more about the topic. M.I.T. lists many of their courses online but by doing so they are also fishing for new talent to bring to their campus. This was rightly so when they came upon this teenager who lived in Mongolia where most of the people there are nomads and electronic parts are scarce.

So what was the secret to his success, when the dropout rate is more than half for all online courses? There were two actually, one was his principal of his school, Enkhmunkh Zurgaanjinwho was a M.I.T. alum, and a friend of the principal, Tony Kim, who was a Ph.D student at Stanford who was studying electrical engineering at the time. These two people are the reason for his success. Mr. Zurgaanjinwho wanted his students to enroll in the course and watch it at home, since the course was not approved by the ministry of education in the country, and in order to help the students keep up, he asked his friend to provide a lab so they can follow with the coursework. Kim brought over electronic parts for the kids to use and understand. Kim agreed to visit for 10 weeks and teach the students as they were learning the material online.

It’s important to understand here that the M.I.T. course was taught in English so not only was Battushig trying to learn the material but he also was learning it as a second language. Then he did something that many successful people do if they really want to learn something, they go out and teach it. In that respect, he created online youtube videos for his other classmates who didn’t speak English and translated the material that way. This is an old secret for learning new material fast, if you want to learn something right away then the best thing for you to do is once you go over the material is to go right out and teach it to someone. That action right there is what helped Battushig to learn how to process and understand the material. He learned along the way how to teach something to someone if you do not have a firm grip on things. Well, as you are processing the material to teach you run across gaps in your knowledge, this requires the teacher to go back and look for the answer, especially when the students are asking question that require you to think differently about the material as well. This helped Battushig to really understand the material if he was going to help his friends learn it, it required more of him to understand the material.

Success from MOOCs
While he was teaching his friends, making online translation videos, and doing very well in the course, M.I.T. was watching. They were curious to understand how he was able to pass a course without any of the prerequisites which require higher levels of math than he was already used to. His answer was that he scoured the web to find those materials online for free and supplement it that way and because he was just a teenager without any responsibilities that older adults have (job, paying bills, kids, social life, etc) he had all the time in the world to making his time a success.

These are important factors to consider when thinking about taking any kind of MOOC – what support structure will you have, who will be there to answer questions, and do you know where to find supplemental materials online? M.I.T. was very impressed with how he created those online videos using just his iPhone camera. He would walk students through problems with the phone above the sheet of paper so they can watch all the while speaking in his native language as he did the problems.

The work he has done impressed them so much that M.I.T. wanted to hire him to come and work on their online courses but because of the issue with his visa they realized it wasn’t going to happen right away. At the suggestion of his high school principal he said that Battushig should apply as a student and then he would be able to work there so M.I.T. told him to apply, which he was accepted, and in return he took a student job working on their MOOCs. At 17 he started as a freshman at M.I.T. in the fall of 2013 and he has since been teaching everyone there the question they all wanted answered, how did a Mongolian teenager master all the course work for a sophomore level M.I.T. course all by himself? That’s what he teaches now for his student job, while most regular student jobs are in the library or as student assistants, he is teaching people how to learn from online courses using free resources.

Putting it into Perspective
Well, now you know the secret to how he did it, the question now becomes, if a teenager in a third-world country, with internet speeds slower than those in the US, can master an online course and get into one of the top Math and Science universities in the world with no background on the material, then what’s your excuse?

News Articles
You can read more about him from these online articles.

New York Times

Slate News

YouTube Channel

Boston Magazine

Another, “How not to use social media for your campaign” article

In a recent attempt to get more students, who don’t have any money, to fill out their FAFSA form online some brilliant (please note the sarcasm) marketing person decided it would be funny to include a meme of a situation from Bridesmaids where one of the actresses tells a stewardess on the plane that she needs help because she is poor. I guess the people in the FAFSA department thought this would be funny to those that really do need money in order to go to college.

No Colleges have offered any response to the rising prices of tuition except to say that they are necessary in order to keep up with the changing demands of the economy. Translation, we can’t stop building stuff that students don’t really need but we say that they do so we keep building it in order to have a reason to keep raising prices every week and then hold elections by our boards to make it look like a justified effort.

For those millions of students who have to give up on their dream school because the price of tuition is just too high, consider giving yourself a real education by the price of nothing. Take some MOOC courses, read this article, and check out these books (Don’t Go Back to School, Hacking Your Education, Better Than College) from your library. You might end up being smarter in the end for doing so, because hey, if you can save $100k in tuition money and still get the same quality education then who is the real idiot?

The key thing to learn from all of this is to not insult who your target audience is. The form requires very detailed personal information and for many who come from disadvantaged backgrounds getting that information can be difficult. FAFSA does not make it any easier on you if you leave out a small detail or can not provide the information necessary in order to complete your applications because you do not know it or can not get access to finding out. They did learn their mistake about what they did because after one hour people were very mad to see how insensitive they were to students’ needs.

How to get people mad using social media

The value of an education in the palm of your hands

[Article Updated] 6/30/2014

MOOCs are becoming a thing that will probably change how people learn and view education at higher institutions. MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses and you can take any course that interests you for free online (I do need to point out though that some schools are charging still). Anyone with a fast enough internet connection on their laptop, desktop, or mobile phone or tablet can sign up for a course and go back to school.

MOOCs have been around for awhile but now that college tuition is getting to the point that it is unaffordable for the majority people are looking for ways to offset the costs. People know they need degrees for certain jobs but many others are seeing online certificates, that many MOOC courses offer, as an alternative to that degree. Why sit in classes you will never need when you can get a certificate that says you completed all course requirements in the courses that meet the needs of the jobs you are applying for?

Shaking Things UP
MOOCs are changing how people learn but not just that but also where people learn. There are many apps available that let you sign up for courses online using your mobile device, a few of those apps are Coursera app (iTunes, Android), Khan Academy (iTunes), and MOOCs4U (this one only provides a list.

There are many people who sign up for courses on their desktop computer and then download lectures and material on their mobile devices to watch on the train ride to work or on the plane. Now that people can access education and customize the courses they want to learn this will start to change how people understand and interact with how to get an education that fits their needs instead of having to worry about legislative requirements that majority of state schools require of their students to take. Students will no longer have to deal with having to take classes just to meet degree requirements, they can take only the courses that match a field or what a job requires and then pay for the certificate (which averages about $70 bucks) for each course. So if they only need four or five courses to be considered for a job that only comes out to about $350 total for five courses. Not even community colleges can compete with prices like that. Remember, this is to say you want the certificate to show proof you completed the course and passed it, if you don’t need it then you took the course for free. This of course does not include textbooks or additional classroom material but it can’t be more than the average cost for one semester at a regular university.

So whether you know you need to go back to school or trying to find out if you can handle the rigors of college course work, MOOCs are here to help people take control of their education and enable people to learn any course subject that interests them no matter the course level. Just know that in ten years more than twice as many people will have college educations and if you plan to compete with them you will need some kind of education that keeps you ahead of the pack. Check some of the main sites for taking courses online and look through the resource section of this website to find major universities that offer their courses online for free and how you can be apart of them.

List of MOOCs (Go Learn something new today!)

Coursera – Take Courses from some of the best schools in the world

Udacity – Get yourself a nanodegree

edX – Get an Education from the Best

P2PU – Learning Built by an Open Community

FutureLearn – Courses from UK Universities and from around the world

Saylor Academy – Bringing Resources together online and turning it into an education

SkilledUp – You can search the best courses online and where to take them

Here’s how one company called CreativeLive is doing it

MOOC are changing how people get an education now but even more so, it provides a way for universities to find hidden talent in places you wouldn’t normally look. Kids, teenagers, and even senior citizens are going to school online and impressing a number of research universities, many of which are offered spots in the schools or research labs for the work they have done.

This is no laughing matter when it comes to getting an education in the work the future job market will require no less than a masters and Ph.D.

News Articles

How MOOCS are coming through your Tablets and Smartphones

A Smart Way to Skip College

The Future of Education (The Digital Degree)

Creative Destruction