It was just a year ago that I enrolled in my first massive open online course (MOOC), Duke University’s Think Again: How to Reason and Argue offered through Coursera.

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MOOC proliferation has proved polarizing on college campuses.

And as I took the class and began listening in on the excited media conversation about this new teaching and learning medium, I noticed a positive version of the same kind of mania surrounding the negative stories accompanying this year’s MOOC backlash.

In both cases, arguments in favor and critical of MOOCs seemed to be made by people who had in common almost no first-hand experience taking a MOOC class.

In fact, even those who had participated in some kind of MOOC project rarely had experience beyond teaching or taking a single class to completion.

What seemed to be missing was the voice of a student who had taken enough courses to learn the equivalent of what someone would get by sitting through an entire degree program, an experience that would provide exposure to courses from all of the major MOOC providers created by different professors at different institutions on a wide range of subjects.

And so I decided to provide that voice by creating the Degree of Freedom One Year BA project, an experiment within the wider MOOC experiment that would require me to take 32 college level courses over twelve months that met the distribution and major requirements of a liberal arts degree at a traditional college or university.

And to see how well MOOCs had progressed past their original focus on computer science subjects, I decided to major in a non-scientific field (philosophy).

See page 2 for the author’s most important takeaways from his MOOC experiment…


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