There might come a time when MOOC programmes are dismissed with an unusual ease as if it is an SMS forward especially since every other day we hear announcements from universities jumping onto the massive online open courses bandwagon. But not to be ignored is US-based Georgia Tech College of Computing’s online master’s in computer science (to be completed in three-six years) since you exit with a ‘degree’ in hand.
So why has Georgia Tech forayed into MOOC. “We are doing it because we can and because we should,” plainly says, Charles Isbell, senior associate dean of Georgia Tech College of Computing and professor in the School of Interactive Computing. “Rising student costs for higher education threaten enrollments at a growing number of institutions. Structural shifts in the economy have simultaneously created a sizable population of un- or underemployed workers in need of affordable education and training together with a strong demand for a larger technological workforce.”
To set things right, Georgia is heavily banking on technology. “Technology has made feasible and affordable the delivery of elite-quality education, not only through the proliferation and penetration of the broadband internet, but through affordable and portable recording technology,” he says.
The first cohort will begin in January 2014, and students can apply from October 7. Fee is $6,600 (approx `4 lakh). Details at www.omscs.gatech.edu. According to the prof, a master’s in computer science represents a natural first pilot in online degrees and that is the reason Georgia has started with computer science, a popular subject throughout the world. “The master degree is often a professional degree that emphasises learning through rigorous and structured coursework, as opposed to the rigorous but highly unstructured research experiences of the doctoral student. Postgraduate students are often older and have the maturity and discipline to self-motivate, traits that are critical to student success in a MOOC environment. Finally, computing work can often be evaluated using objective measures,” explains Isbell.
Georgia has teamed with Udacity to deliver the programme. “At Udacity, there is a focused, highly interactive approach to MOOC education, with course segments that continually reinforce learning through micro-quizzes and other exercises built into the course content itself. These innovations have led to significantly higher retention and academic performance rates when compared to other MOOC offerings,” says Isbell.
While all around the world MOOC has been welcomed, critics are skeptical about career prospects. “We believe a degree from Georgia Tech will help students’ job prospects. The reaction we have received from industry about this programme has been extremely positive,” says Isbell. Complete details regarding the course including structure, modules, etc, are available at www.udacity.com. Your performance will be reviewed through exams and projects.