I ventured into my first MOOC recently after wanting to understand more about the recent 2008 financial crisis and the role which Robert Shiller played in predicting the calamity and domino effect that followed the epic failure of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent pouring of toxic sub-prime debt into global markets. An important cog intertwined in the entire western financial system that led to endemic global failure and panic from New York to Frankfurt. After doing further research and receiving varying recommendations from friends, I came to the following shortlist:
Directly in Coursera, I was delighted to discover a new lecture series entitled "Financial Markets", offered by Yale University by Prof. Shiller himself and without hesitation I enrolled. The MOOC experience itself is not quite Ivy League and I had previously completed a top management degree program in Europe's IE Business school therefore I was skeptical of the value-add from participating. However, not to my chagrin, I found a comprehensive course dedicated to financial topics from risk-management, monetary policy and critically financial infrastructure which was complicit in the recent Great Recession.
Although quite fundamental, all topics offered an immersive class video lecture followed by an online quiz which I have to say was not exactly a CFA-level test, yet challenging nonetheless. Furthermore, Coursera offers a forum where all students can interact and in some cases offline groups are also offered (across the world!). Therefore, my first impression from the MOOC experience is that
- It offers a very viable alternative to learn on-demand
- It cannot replicate the camaraderie and fraternity of the classroom experience however the possibility to interact with fellow learners offline is a definite value-add
- Coursera offers a verified certificate (at cost) that, much like any college credential, offers the ability to validate your learning (http://bit.ly/1xonyzt)
I learned a lot from the Coursera experience and highly recommend it. In terms of additional platforms, comparatively Coursera offers a huge range of topics across disciplines and from partner Universities across the world whereas Udacity/Udemy have a niche focus. In the case of Udacity, there is large emphasis on technology with large support from the largest organisations in Sillicon Valley offering the possibility to learn hands-on on projects developed by Google & Facebook.
It seems clear that we have reached a new enlightened age of education where anyone with an internet connection can participate. Perhaps the most important progression in this disruption of education is that education is accessible for everyone to enrich and improve their knowledge. This is certainly not my last MOOC and have a feeling it is just the entrée.