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Comment my two cents (Score 5, Informative) 141

As one of the persons mentioned in this article, I can't help saying that I felt uneasy being identified by my family status (as opposed to everyone else, who were described by their professional affiliation), after all I work in SW dev longer than that journalist has been writing his articles. Didn't expect the Chronicles of High Ed be that gender biased.

In any case, for me main drives for getting involved with Coursera (and a couple of other MOOCs) were professional interests (for the stuff that was related to my work, eg computer science) and curiosity ( for the stuff that was not), combined with some free time I had available. (the bit about addiction was supposed to be a joke, but apparently that's the stuff journalists tend to pick. Lesson learned :) )

I still wonder for how long the whole MOOC frenzy will continue in its current form. One of the concerns (which is often shared by the MOOC students themselves) is that the courses might become "watered down" so that more people will be able to pass them, but there will be less value in taking them. (If everyone wins in a lottery what's the point?). Another worry is monetization and which form it will eventually take (if things come to that point at all).

In any case, there are now some courses well worth taking, even though they can't be seen as the equivalents of the "real" education, it's too experimental for that. What they can do (at least the good ones) is to provide a structured introduction to the field, which is quite valuable if you want to learn something new.

On the other side, there might be some indirect (and hopefully, positive) effect of MOOCs which isn't measured by the percentage of those who successfully finished the course, but we might not be able to see it yet. From the fact that many of the people I know follow these courses now, I would assume that there is at least a demand, and it seems to grow. OTOH, it might be just a fashion which will pass after a while. So the best strategy seems to be using it while it lasts :)

"The fundamental principle of science, the definition almost, is this: the sole test of the validity of any idea is experiment." -- Richard P. Feynman

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