Always wanted to do some course from the prestigious Oxford University but couldn’t afford the fee or the visit to Britain? From 2017 onwards, you will be able to take your favourite courses from the Oxford University, free of cost, online. This way you won’t have to visit the United Kingdom to get a degree from Oxford.
Universities and colleges like Berkeley, Harvard and the MIT are already offering vast repositories of free online courses. All in all, almost 100 universities are offering these free courses to millions of students from all over the world.
Oxford is offering its first “massive open online course”, commonly called MOOC, in partnership with other US online university networks.
It will be beginning with an economics course using the online platform edX. This platform has been set up by Harvard University and the MIT. Other similar platforms are Coursera in the US and FutureLearn in the UK. Course materials and other educational resources can be availed via the iTunes U service.
The edX online educational platform has around 9 million registered students and currently it is offering more than 900 online courses from Harvard, MIT, Berkeley in the US, Sorbonne in France and Edinburgh and Imperial College London in the UK.
The title of the first course will be “From poverty to prosperity: Understanding Economic Development”, and it will commence in February 2017.
Not all courses will be necessarily free. The basic idea behind offering online courses is to make higher education accessible and affordable.
Those who oppose this idea say that once it becomes easier to opt for higher courses from prestigious colleges and universities like Oxford, there will be a greater dropout rate and a greater number of people won’t be getting their degrees.
Are these courses like the Oxford University online course legitimate?
For example, is a Masters in Literature done through an online course as valued as the Masters in Literature obtained by actually attending Oxford University?
Can these courses launch careers? Shorter courses anyway aren’t as valuable as full-fledged degrees and certificates. These courses are just supplements. For example, if you already have a marketing degree it may help you if you also do course in online marketing.
Smaller online courses also prepare you for bigger mainstream subjects. A small course in economics may encourage you to take up economics as a major subject in a university. By offering free online courses Oxford might be attracting more students because if you do an online course from Oxford and then if you want to pursue further you would rather attend Oxford than any other university.