THE advent of Massive Open Online Courses has revolutionised teaching and learning methods. They are fast replacing the traditional education system and emerging as a tool for offering quality education and training to people worldwide. All that one needs to learn is the interest and a computer with internet connection.

The future of MOOCs is still evolving and their shape will become clearer with time. However, some trends in education in the last century match the sudden onset of MOOCs.

In a few years, MOOCs have received immense coverage in academia, industry and media. In 2012, the then CEO of MOOC platform, Sebestian Thrun of Udacity, forecast: “in 50 years, there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education.” He also made the claim that the magic formula for learning has been found which would be MOOC.

Many theorists are of the opinion that MOOCs confirm the statement management guru Peter Drucker made about education in 1997. “The current set-up is doomed, at least so far as higher education is concerned. Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won’t survive. . .” Academics today are challenged on how to respond to this phenomenon.

Students of today can learn from different courses offered by diverse institutions instead of committing to a single university and being limited by its course offerings. In addition to a substitute for formal education, MOOCs can be used as tools for developing skills in our youth.

We are witnessing the emergence of a thrilling period of learning novelty. It will be fascinating to see how this unravels in future.

Dr Sajid Iqbal

Lahore

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2017

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