For several years, massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have enabled people all around the globe to take free, Ivy League-quality classes from the world’s top universities. Geared primarily toward college students, lifelong learners or continuing professional education, MOOC courses have reached as many as 10 million people
worldwide in just a few short years.
The MOOC model is fairly simple. As the acronym suggests, courses are accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time as long as they have access to a computer and the Internet. Taught using a combination of methods, MOOCs typically include video tutorials, interactive exercises and discussion forums, allowing students all over the world to interact.
Now, MOOCs are now reaching beyond higher education to include courses geared toward secondary education students. In September, EdX, a non-profit MOOC consortium founded jointly by Harvard and MIT, announced it would offer MOOC courses for high school students. Other MOOC providers, such as Coursera, are also pursuing the secondary education market.
Why secondary education? In a word, demand, says Nancy Moss, director of communications for the Cambridge, Mass.-based EdX
. Over the past few years, more than 150,000 of EdX’s estimated 3 million registered users have been high school students. This, she says, suggests that there are students out there whose needs are not being met.