By Jonathan Haber
I recently devoted a week on the Degree of Freedom web site to a discussion how time relates not just to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) but to any form of independent learning.
When trying to determine whether a particular class can work with your schedule, one of the first issues to confront is whether the class is being taught synchronously (with lectures and assignments released regularly as part of a scheduled program with a start and end date) vs. asynchronously (where students can start and stop a course at any time).
Of the three main MOOC providers described previously (Coursera, edX and Udacity), Coursera and edX primarily follow the synchronous model with each course scheduled to begin and end on a specific date. Between these two dates, lectures and assignments that build on each other are released on a weekly basis. And these assignments have their own deadlines, requiring students to complete a certain body of work on a certain schedule in order to pass the course.
In contrast, students taking Udacity courses can start any time and take lessons at their own pace with no deadlines hanging over them to complete the course within a required timeframe. While Udacity courses are more structured than asynchronous “lecture only” classes from sources like iTunes U, the bottom line is that asynchronous classes are self-paced from beginning to end (vs. synchronous courses that require you to replicate some version of the weekly schedule you’d expect at a brick-and-mortar university).
[ Full article available at The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-haber/doin-mooc-time_b_3069788.html ]