Free online courses, known as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), have the potential to educate anyone anywhere and reach the world's lowest sectors of society with high quality education. The education sector is being shaken up by the world's top universities by offering their quality content for free. The high speed of internet and increasing connectivity in Third World countries is causing a big shift in the way we learn.
MOOCs emerged largely at the end of 2011 and immediately became the defining spirit of education in this techno-savy period of history because of the ideas and beliefs of our world today. Digital and learning cultures are connecting, because of which, since 2011 millions of students have enrolled in over a thousand courses from more than 200 of the world's best universities.
Many employers are still unfamiliar with MOOCs, but once they learned about them, they generally view them positively for recruiting, hiring and training employees, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University and RTI International.The study, funded by the Gates Foundation, is the first to evaluate employers' knowledge, experience and attitudes toward MOOCs.
Researchers from Duke and RTI surveyed almost 400 North Carolina employers between November 2013 and January 2014. Human resources professionals from 103 organisations responded to the survey and 20 participated in interviews.
"These online courses have quickly grown in popularity in the past couple of years, but there hasn't been any research showing how employers view MOOCs," said Alexandria Walton Radford, Ph.D. , program director in postsecondary education at RTI International and the study's director explaining her motivation for the study.
Although only 31 per cent of participants had heard of MOOCs at the time of the survey, once they read a description, most were very receptive to the possible use of MOOCs in recruiting and hiring decisions. And they were especially positive towards their potential use in professional development training.
"As MOOC companies expand their clientele base, companies are logical places to recruit to provide skills to the workforce," said Keith Whitfield, PhD, vice provost for Academic Affairs, Duke University "There are a number of anecdotal reports of MOOCs being used to enhance workers hiring and promotion prospects but virtually no hard data."
In addition, almost three-quarters of employers surveyed indicated that job applicants taking MOOCs would be perceived positively or very positively in hiring decisions.
As for using MOOCs for existing employees' professional development, the study found that 7 percent of employers were already using MOOCs for this purpose, 5 percent were already considering doing so, and another 71 percent could see their organization doing so. This high level of receptivity occurred across industries.
Students on MOOC's
"The mooc revolution is the single most significant thing to happen in education. Today, with a click of the button you can be at a Stanford classroom while sitting in Alwar. Online education is a major step towards free and good education for all. "
- Amal Sethi studied Psychology at Coursera
"I think they're brilliant, provided one is absolutely comfortable with the idea of self-learning."
- Anushka Shah, studies Spanish at Duolingo
"It's always good for education to be spread as widely as it can be. It can definitely benefit a lot of people! "
- Aaliya Kanuga