Top 10 misconceptions about MOOCs — free online university courses

It’s not going to be your average first day of school.

Northwestern University’s Medill School is launching its first “massively open online course” next week, called “Understanding Media by Understanding Google.”

I’m the professor, and my virtual classroom has more than 40,000 students enrolled. That would be approximately 1,000 times more than would be sitting in the “on-premises” undergraduate course I used as a springboard for this curriculum.

The rapidly expanding universe of colleges and universities offering these online courses includes Princeton, Stanford, Yale, MIT, The Ohio State, University of Pennsylvania, UCLA and hundreds more around the globe. Northwestern has other courses launching as well, reaching close to 70,000 students around the globe. The concept has its champions and detractors while many are watching closely to see what transpires in this educational experiment.

Part of my getting ready to teach MOOCs, not surprisingly, was reading widely about the format (as well as enrolling in one as a student). What I discovered in the process is that misconceptions abound in academia and the real world about the nature of these courses. So here is my list of the top 10 — at least before class starts.

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