While traveling, I started participating in a MOOC n computer science. Everyone and their brother has been touting these as the game changer in higher education. Please stop. I honestly can’t imagine anyone getting a complete degree this way and doing well. While there are likely some people and subjects that are well suited to this format, I find it a frustrating way to learn something new. Yes, the videos are short, which is indeed a good thing,and it’s cool that there are questions you can actually answer. But there’s only one right answer and no one to ask why your answer isn’t right. Sometimes in the explanation, there’s a brief mention of other ways to solve the problem, but no explanation of what those solutions might be, and worse, why the actual answer is better than those other solutions.

After a while of trying to sort out answers for myself and getting them “wrong”, I gave up and just clicked on the answer. This can’t be a good way to learn. It’s also true that I’m under conditions not necessarily conducive to learning, but I suspect many people who choose to enroll in classes online are in similar kinds of situations. Full-time jobs, kids, no money to pay for other classes, low motivation, etc. I just don’t find the material compelling enough to dispel all those distractions.

I’m going to continue, though, and I may change my mind. But so far, it’s not living up to the hype.