By Michael Chiang

Sophomore, Biochemistry Major

                  With competition for top-tier universities growing every year, some students feel stifled in their dreams to attend their dream school. Luckily, classes at Harvard, Princeton and other amazing schools, are actually at your fingertips. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are growing in strength and number as students around the world are flocking to websites such as Coursera, edX, or MIT Open Courseware. They offer a variety of courses, such as ‘An Intro to Logic’ and ‘Think Again: How to reason and argue,’ which are enriching and fundamental to the cultivation of the rational mind.


 As a biochemistry major, the majority of my classes at UF are purely science, however; Coursera offers a reprieve so that I can explore other interests through an immense library of interesting and creative classes. Browsing through the growing catalog this summer, I was able to find more than a few courses that catch my eye: ‘Songwriting’, ‘Videogames and Learning, and ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior’.

If you would like to see a particular class you’re taking taught in a different perspective or want to get an early start, many typical core classes are easily accessible like ‘Organic Chemistry 2’ and ‘Physics 1’. What I find most gratifying is that the majority of the lecturers are fascinating, experienced, humorous, and a tad bit eccentric. The instructors demonstrate an unparalleled passion for teaching that easily translates into eacg course. Moreover, as the courses are hosted through a MOOC website, and not videotaped classroom courses, the teachers tailor their assignments and videos to maximize online learning for students. Classes can now be something to look forward to, rather than the reason your alarm clock torments you every morning.

Regardless of your performance in these MOOCs, they are not for college credit. Classes are purely based on an honor system and due to the nature of an online class, cheating on an assignment or test is not difficult. Rather than viewing this as a detriment, I embrace an environment where one does not have to be occupied with the constant looming of grades, but where one can exert the full extent of their mental faculties to a task. The goal of MOOCs is personal enrichment, not grades, and people around the world are recognizing this. In fact, college admission officers and employers are starting to consider the presence of MOOC classes in the selection process. By taking multiple MOOCs, you become a symbol of the innovative nature of learning, demonstrate initiative, and show your interests are multi-faceted. As always, no learning is without its benefits.

MOOCs are a revolutionary wave in the permeation of learning to everyone despite any inhibitory socio-economical statuses. Despite their obvious benefits, I personally believe MOOCs are not yet capable of overhauling the traditional state of learning of physical appearances and classrooms. Classes at the university level encompass more than the teacher, the student, or the physical location: together they emerge as a unique experience where one absorbs so much more than simple text. Nevertheless, with the rapid changes that technology brings, we are only experiencing the preliminary breeze – the soft precursors to the winds of undeniable change in education.

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