If people who sit at their computers for tens of hours each week zapping virtual monsters are hard-core gamers, then massive open online courses have led to a similarly obsessed breed of online student: the hard-core learner.
Nearly 100 students using Coursera, the largest provider of MOOCs, have completed 20 or more courses. And more than 900 students have finished 10 or more courses, according to the company. That means taking several courses at a time, and racing through as many lecture videos and robot-graded assignments as possible to collect certificates that carry no official credit.
The term “MOOCs” is meant to parallel the video-game acronym “MMOGs,” or massively multiplayer online games—collaborative worlds, like World of Warcraft, that have attracted millions of devoted players around the world. So perhaps it is no surprise that some MOOC students are driven to win as many certificates as possible and treat online lectures as a consuming pastime that keeps them from going outside to hang out with friends.
I talked at length with a handful of hard-core MOOC students, with questions big and small about why, and how much, they felt they were learning.
[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/article/What-Professors-Can-Learn-From/139367/ ]