By Kit Eaton
MASSIVE Open Online Courses — or MOOCs — are a snowballing revolution in education.
Thousands of courses from some of the world’s finest institutions are available free online, covering everything from astrophysics to the arts. For each course, students, sometimes numbering in the thousands, take part from home — where they view video lectures, take tests and submit essays through a Web interface. It’s a digital classroom with no actual “room,” and where you can study more or less when you like.
Nowadays of course, your smartphone means you can also study when you’re on the move.
Coursera’s free iOS and Android app is perhaps the very best way to take part in a MOOC through a phone or tablet — maybe during your commute to work or your lunch break. The app gives you limited access to Coursera’s list of available courses as well as any you have already signed up for.
The app’s “Find Courses” section lists courses available by subject. Each subject has its own summary page with images showing off the individual courses along with their titles, the institutions providing them and their dates.
Tapping a course brings up an introduction video that typically tries to interest you in the content, as well as detailed descriptions of what the course covers, workload requirements and which languages are available. If you like the look of a course, you can sign up ahead of time.
When you’re already taking part in a course, you can view its lecture videos through Coursera’s app. These can be streamed or, if you plan ahead, downloaded in advance so that you don’t burn through your mobile data allowance while traveling. Because the app is connected to your account, the videos you’ve viewed will be marked as already seen when you log in later through your computer.
[ Full article available at The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/05/technology/personaltech/Moocs-via-tablet-or-smartphone-are-gateway-to-free-education.html ]