Free Ivy League education anyone?


I had always dreamed of having an American style, Ivy League education. But being an African, it was one tall order; massively tall order. Or so I thought, until the advent of the MOOC, the revolution sweeping through tertiary education.

My certificate just came in for successfully completing my very first MOOC – Massive Open Online Course. Simply, MOOCs refer to the idea of offering university courses freely to anyone interested from anywhere in the world via the internet (that is the World Wide Web). It’s an innovation that that is designed to make higher education accessible, affordable and available to the mass of people. And like wildfire, the MOOC spark has caught on and is flaming across the world, redefining education and questioning traditional models of tertiary studies.

The MOOC I took was a class on Organisational Analysis from the prestigious Stanford University on the MOOC providing portal Coursera. Other such portals include Udacity and VentureLab. The Organisational Analysis course was taught by a tenured Stanford professor who also teaches same course to students face-to face on the Stanford campus. I signed up out of curiousity with about sixty thousand other students from all over the world, and, together for ten weeks we studied and chatted and learnt about different organisations and the theories and models that guide organisational behavior. Classes were delivered via weekly videos which the student streamed or downloaded, while reading materials where sourced via the web and came in the form of PDFs and Word Docs of books and journal papers. In-video quizzes came with the instruction videos and class discussions took place on the course forums with essays and papers being peer reviewed due to the large class numbers.

After 10 weeks of instructions, including a week’s break for the American holiday of Thanksgiving, examinations arrived. 104 multiple choice questions in three hours, the open book exam started with the exam link emailed to our inboxes. Once activated, the student will have a three hour clock counting down. I took mine on a tablet pc sitting on my bed.

All in all it was a unique experience. The amount of knowledge transferred was massive –that word again. In true Stanford style, it was tedious, inspiring and needed plenty of hardwork. We generally did about 100 pages of reading every week and even though it was designed to be part time, it was nonetheless intensive. But I enjoyed it and gladly grabbed with both hands the opportunity to receive Ivy League, well virtual Ivy League, instruction. And I have signed up for more courses in this year. So, Stanford done. Next stop, Harvard, Edinburgh…you name it.

And my grade I hear you ask? Trust me, in the nineties.

You may follow the writer on twitter: @sirwebs


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