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The Student Insider

The advantages of learning via MOOCs


Written by
Lucy Bodenham

The benefits of massive open online courses are varied - bite sized, flexible and an affordable way to study on the go. 

Student working with software programming

What are MOOCs?

An online learning platform offering massive open online courses, which are delivered through Coursera, the world’s largest online learning platform.

Teaching follows the format of lectures, videos, reading material and often there is feedback on the interactive forums. This encourages user participation and you can check and feedback on your fellow members' course work.

Some courses also allow for dynamic development of study material which could be useful if you are working on a project close to your interests.

Perhaps you are developing your own website and need to add some interactive user elements to enhance it. So instead of having pre-planned reading course work, the material is developed through online discussion and collaboration from learners around the world. In a sense you build on the go and it's a great way to make contacts with fellow learners.

Eight benefits:

  • Gain a taster experience for a full degree programme
  • Courses are flexible, you can start now and study at your own pace
  • Being able to register for free and many MOOCs are free certificate courses
  • Engage and feedback with your fellow learners
  • Deadlines are flexible according to your schedule
  • Preview the syllabus and most of the course materials for free
  • Interactive courses are designed by specialists in their field at top universities
  • Know how many hours are required to devote to a course.

A positive experience

My interest in MOOCS was piqued while working on websites and I wanted to explore three key programming and design languages used in the design of websites and gain experience of JQuery. So I chose to do the Responsive Website Basics developed by Goldsmiths, University of London.

As a disabled person I needed to know how accessible the course would be, particularly if it was interactive. Prior to beginning, I checked out the videos and was so pleased to see videos were captioned.

Videos are a user friendly format to stop and replay at your own learning pace while you use time on your daily commute. The interactive forums were great for me and all in all I found this a positive and engaging experience.

Coursera are committed to ensuring learners with visual and hearing impairments are able to succeed in courses on their platform. You can find out more in the range of Help Articles on Coursera’s website. All lecture videos have native language closed-caption subtitles and you can download the subtitles to read transcripts.

Are the courses free?

Most courses range from $49, and some have a specialisation bundle; usually 4 to 5 to earn a ‘Specialisation Certificate’. The courses are free to audit. Meaning access to graded assignments and earning a completion certificate is great value for money.

How often do courses run?

Start dates differ and some courses run up to 4 times a year.

Forthcoming webinars

Our webinars are hosted frequently throughout the year about programmes we offer so do check the events section regularly.