According to Prabhakar, while many courses are rigorous, it is not mandatory to be a college student to enroll.
From the Horse’s Mouth
ParentEdge spoke to Anant Agarwal, President, edX, and this is what he had to say:
How do these free online courses compare with courses that you actually take in college that are paid for — in terms of quality, teaching expertise, resources, etc.?
“EdX courses do not replace a traditional campus education. They are as rigorous as the on-campus versions, but they differ in that they offer convenience and are highly interactive and fun, incorporating video gaming technology.
MOOCs and online learning also enable instant feedback through automatically graded exercises, self-paced learning through the ability to simply pause or rewind videos, peer learning through online discussion forums, and the application of video gaming mechanisms to online virtual laboratories. Feedback from edX students has been tremendously positive. The courses are very hard, but the students like them because they are engaging.
Because the coursework is released at the beginning of each week throughout its duration, students can access it at any time and complete it at their convenience, so online courses offer more flexibility.”
Advantages of e-learning courses
“High School students can benefit from edX courses in a variety of ways. We have heard from some high-school students who have taken courses on edX either for high school credit towards graduation, to supplement their course offerings in preparation for college or an AP test, or simply because they are interested in a subject that is not offered at their school.” – Anant Agarwal, President, edX.
- You can supplement your high-school knowledge by taking college-level courses in your chosen subjects.
- Students have the option of selecting courses that they are interested in and studying them in-depth, even if they are not studying these subjects in school. You may be studying science in high school, but can always take an online course in English Poetry from Wordsworth to Eliot!
- These courses enable a person to study something they are passionate about but may not be pursuing in the future, so you ‘can have your cake, and eat it too’!
- The discussion board and group chats are beneficial – they lead to interactive learning and are also helpful for finding out more information on a particular aspect.
- There is a variety of activities and assignments to complete within the courses that can enhance one’s learning — so it’s not just textbook learning.
- It prepares someone for how college will be in terms of rigour and structure.
- You can test your competency and interest in a certain area to see if you want to take it up in college.
- Students gain a sense of confidence and self-awareness by taking these courses; they are chosen by the student themselves, which enhances their motivation in wanting to learn more.
However, it’s not all a bed of roses. Students would do well to keep some of these pointers in mind:
- Since these courses are online and there is no imperative to study, students may get lazy and may not be as serious about daily activities and some deadlines. In short, they have to be self-motivated to complete a course.
- Students with poor studying habits and concentration may lag behind.
- You cannot complete these courses without the Internet. So if you have a slow connection, or a technical problem, you may have difficulties in accessing the videos.
- Science courses that are based on lab work are not as realistic as they are supposed to be, as it is difficult to portray the actual lab setting via a video.
- There are many students enrolling, and hundreds can attend a single course; this means that no student will get individual or personal attention from the tutor or even instant replies to her doubts.
Many students enroll in e-learning courses solely because they want to improve their resumes for college. This is not why these courses should be taken! Taking courses just to put this down on college applications means that you are missing the very essence of what e-learning is about!” exclaims Prabhakar.