Have you ever wanted to study an Ivy League school, such as Harvard or Yale?  Would you prefer a top-tier tech school like MIT?  Now, any one of us can get an education at one of these schools through MOOCs: Massive Online Open Courses.

A MOOC program takes eLearning in a new direction.  Schools are now offering courses that are free and open to the public through web-based portals.  These are the same courses that they offer their students in a traditional setting - just without the credits of a college degree.


Let's take a look at an example.

Because this blog about technology, MIT's Open Courseware  is a good place to start.  Through their site (ocw.mit.edu), you can take courses in information technology, such as database systems, telecommunications, and eCommerce, or in various engineering specialties, such as aerospace, biology, and nanotechnology.

A course in nanotechnology from the leading engineering and technology school in the United States - how cool is that?  I'm not even sure what nanotechnology is, and I'm still excited.

But why would anyone take a course that does not count towards a degree?

Because knowledge has the power to change lives.  Long before we became overly focused on the piece of paper hanging on the wall, people attended colleges and universities for advanced learning.  It was more about the education than the degree.

In today's world, we go to college simply to add a bullet point to our resume.  It's often a prerequisite to a better career, so we pay tens of thousands of dollars just to get an entry-level job in our chosen field.

MOOC programs hope to change all of that.  The focus will be again on the knowledge gained.  You won't get a plaque to hang on the wall, but you will get an education that can help you in many ways - taught by the leading educators and institutions in the country.

Of course, searching for the right course across the many school offerings can be challenging, but there are some initiatives hoping to bring it all together.  They are:

Each of these sites bring together a mix of instructors and schools to offer a wider variety of courses.  If you are interested in learning for the sake of learning, I encourage you to browse each of their sites.

Maybe it's time to put an end to expensive college degrees that only lead to an entry-level job, and time to re-focus on the true purpose of education: knowledge and wisdom.  Hopefully, MOOCs will be the spark that our education system has sorely needed.

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Copyright 2013 Chad R. Torgerson