Correction Appended: Sept. 5, 2012
MOOC may be a silly-sounding acronym, but this new breed of online classes is shaking up the higher education world in ways that could be good for cash-strapped students and terrible for cash-strapped colleges. Taking a class online might not sound revolutionary—after all, in the fall of 2010, 6.1 million students were enrolled in at least one online course. But those classes were pretty similar to the bricks-and-mortar kind, in that students paid fees to enroll in classes taught and graded by a professor and some teaching assistants. But MOOCs, short for massive open online courses, are a different animal. They can be taken by hundreds of thousands of students at the same time. And perhaps the most striking thing about MOOCs, many of which are being taught by professors at prestigious universities, is that they’re free.
Since MOOCs first made waves in the fall…
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