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Thursday,April 25,2019
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Free ‘iVy League’ education

Chris Hoaldridge
Foreign Language Center

Have you ever dreamed of studying at one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, such as Harvard, MIT, or Stanford? If so, get ready for some exciting news. Anyone, regardless of academic qualifications, can now receive a world-class education from a top-ranked American university, free of charge. What is the catch? Actually, there is only one admission requirement: an internet connection. 

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a revolutionary development in online education. These free virtual courses are opening classroom doors to hundreds of thousands, and potentially millions, of people around the globe who seek access to a top-notch education at some of the world’s best universities, including Ivy League schools. 

Now, Korean university students can enroll in high-caliber courses taught by distinguished American professors, just like the 289 Korean undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Harvard and the 280 at MIT, without ever having to set foot in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

You may already be familiar with OpenCourseWare (OCW), free web-based course materials provided by many universities, including MIT (ocw.mit.edu), Yale (oyc.yale.edu), and the University of California, Berkeley (webcast.berkeley.edu). MIT OCW, for example, offers 2,100 online versions of actual MIT courses and has been used by over 100 million students worldwide since its launch in 2002. OCW course materials, however, are often limited to syllabi, reading lists, lecture notes, and videotaped lectures, thereby creating a largely passive learning experience for students.

MOOCs, on the other hand, are transforming free online education as we know it by providing students with a much more active learning experience, as they include not only engaging videotaped lectures, but also interactive learning content, such as embedded quizzes and exams, peer-to-peer feedback, and question and answer forums. And as if that is not exciting enough, while MOOCs do not offer college credit, most of them do offer certificates of completion.

Coursera (coursera.org), an online learning portal launched in April, currently offers 117 courses in 16 fields, including Computer Science, Business and Management, and Mathematics. The courses are taught by professors at 16 prestigious universities, such as Princeton, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania. 

Another web-based learning platform, Udacity (udacity.com), established last year, presently hosts 11 courses, including Building a Search Engine, Web Application Engineering, and Programming Languages. Students can even take Design of Computer Programs with Peter Norvig, Google’s Director of Research. English captions are also available for all video lectures.

Another exciting development in free online learning was the announcement on May 2 of edX (edx.org), a joint online education venture between MIT and Harvard, which will begin offering MOOCs under the MITx and HarvardX brands in September. The first trial course, Introduction to Circuits and Electronics, attracted over 150,000 students from more than 160 countries during its March launch through MITx. Seven courses are currently being offered for Fall 2012, including Introduction to Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Introduction to Solid State Chemistry.

As you can imagine, the new educational opportunities MOOCs offer students in Korea, as elsewhere worldwide, are extraordinary. University students planning to study in the United States or Canada, for instance, could experience top-tier collegiate-level coursework while also preparing for the TOEFL, which requires a solid command of academic English.

Certificates of completion could also enable university students to enhance their resumes with newly acquired skills and knowledge before entering Korea’s ultracompetitive job market.

Furthermore, MOOCs could provide university students with yet another engaging way to improve their English skills, connect with other students around the world, and gain a sense of accomplishment by having completed a demanding course taught entirely in English.

Clearly, this new trend in online education can meet the needs of Korean students in numerous innovative ways. Get online now and register for a free ‘iVy League’ course. I have already signed up for my first one!

Lee Dong-jun  jacks222@dongguk.edu

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