I suppose I should start out by stating what a MOOC is. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. There are several sites offering such courses, but there's one that stood out to me: edx.org
Many of the courses look very appealing to me. Given my interests, and the reputation and history of MIT in regard to computing, I chose MITx 6.00.1x: "Intro to Computer Science and Programming Using Python" as my first serious enrollment. Having dabbled with other online courses, I wanted to get more out of this one. I wanted to put more into this one. And I did.
Upon starting the course, I was happy to see new and updated material, compared to MIT's Open Courseware from years ago. The quality of the material is the best I've seen. The exercises were relevant and, at times, quite challenging. About 1/3 of the way in, I chose to spend $49 to become verified and eligible for a certificate of completion if I achieved a passing grade at the end of the course.
At the end of the course, I managed a 98%, and earned my certificate. But far more valuable than the certificate, was the knowledge I gained. As a hobbyist coder, I had already taught myself much of what the course teaches. However, the course solidified my understanding of some familiar concepts, while providing clarity and understanding of some entirely new concepts as well. I truly felt that I had gained new ability from the course. That is what I find most rewarding.
Variance in quality of MOOCs
I feel a need to state that not all MOOCs are created equal. I started a couple of MOOCs prior to MITx 6.00.1x, and was disappointed. Some of them have entirely pointless videos which are simply some person stating what is coming next in the course. What exactly is the point of that? Another course forced students to wade through far too much redundant material, to the point it didn't feel like the course was getting anywhere. So if you're interested in enrolling in a MOOC, bear in mind that there may be better choices, in case you find that particular course doesn't work for you.
I enrolled in another course a few days ago. I have a feeling MOOCs are going to be a very significant part of my life for at least a few years. I like that feeling.
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