Learning in MOOCs

Last night, I received an email where a student wrote: “ I like your advice about learning from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) but these classes are taught in English and it is difficult for me because my English is limited. Are there MOOCs course in other languages? I want to learn technical skills to get a good job. Please advise.”

Answer: If you want to have a good job, you must put in your effort. If you have limited English skills then learn more English then take MOOCs courses. In the past few years, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have helped hundred thousands of people around the world to develop their needed skills and building their career. Today the MOOC concept is spreading to many countries and there is a limited number of courses taught in local languages in India, China, France, and Germany. However, to develop a career in Information Technology, you still need to know English because most courses are taught in this language and most companies are hiring people with this language skills.

To succeed in MOOCs, you must have the commitment and strong motivation to complete your studying. Based on your interests and education level, you can select the appropriate class to learn. There are thousands of classes and different subject to choose so you must know your learning goals. You must plan your studying carefully by clearly define how much time you will spend on learning. My advice is in order to do well in a MOOC course, you must spend at least 10 to 20 hours per week or two hours a day to study. Since the courses are online, you can check out the course materials even before the class starts to determine if it is the right class for you. Most MOOC courses are designed to provide information where students learn at their own pace. There is no grade, pass or fail as in traditional classes so you can focus on your own learning.

As an online course, most professors do not know the students so they pose questions and let people answer online. The best way to learn is to answer these questions and read other’s answers to learn more. Do not worry about wrong or right answer as no one knows who you are, or what you do. As a MOOCs student, you must not be passive or shy in class discussion because most students are very helpful in supportive of others so you can make a lot of friends online too. It is important to note that MOOCs classes are taught all over the world with students from different countries, many also do not speak English well so do not worry about your language skills or making a mistake in pronunciation or spelling. There is no one to correct your answers or put in comments, so do not worry.

You are taking MOOCs classes to develop your skills so you should review your own progress because the professors do not check whether you learn something or not. It is up to you to ask yourself: “What have I learned? What skills do I have? Did I achieve my learning goals? Since there is no test, no grade, no degree, you are totally independent on your own learning and it is up to you to put in your effort to learn something and develop the skills that help you to achieve your career goals.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
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