As part of the latest wave of online learning platforms, Massive Online Open Courses (Moocs) have gone viral. They can be useful for certain students, although those interested in changing or enhancing their careers should consider their more intensive sister, distance learning, the New York Times reports.

A Mooc is a mostly free, open course that nearly anyone can apply for and “attend” online. While there may be readings and lectures, students are generally not graded by a professor the way they would be in a traditional college course. You may often come and go as you please.

More than 4.5 million students were enrolled in Moocs at the end of last year, with some six million expected to participate by 2015, according to Kate Worlock, an analyst with Outsell, a research and advisory service based in Burlingame, Calif.

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