We receive three educations, one from our parents,
one from our schoolmasters, and one from the world.
The third contradicts all that the first two teach us.
Charles de Montesquieu
Globalization, political, economical, cultural changes in the world, introduction of digital technology and spread of English as a language of international communication have led to changes in the system of higher education. There emerge various methods and means of teaching foreign languages using Internet technologies.
Active use of electronic materials in higher education over the past two decades have led to the development of materials for remote access in the form of a massive open online course (MOOC) . Famous and prestigious universities like the University of Chicago, Harvard, Stanford and MIT offer the majority of these courses. MOOC as an online education is aimed at large-scale interactive participation. In most cases these courses are free on-line training instead or in addition to traditional training.
The most famous MOOCs are American Сoursera, Udacity and edX, as well as German Iversity, British Futurelearn, Spanish Crypt4you and Indian EduKart. The courses are available for people of different ages, nationalities, interests and educational levels.
MOOCs are divided in interest categories and can be a treasured source of knowledge for an individual and community. MOOCs pursue economic interest of educational institutions at all levels, provide access to improve the level of education to learners and are intended for all age groups. They can be a valuable contribution to traditional higher education and a means to promote skills and competences necessary for performance in work situations . Beyond any doubt, continuous development of skills and competences is essential for people in prestigious job search and adaption to new tasks and responsibilities at work.
MOOCs are rich collections of lectures, training and control tasks, excellent computer demonstrations of natural phenomena and laboratory experiments created by outstanding scientists from leading universities in the world. Thus, a university really opens itself to the world, allowing people to acquire new knowledge.
MOOCs contain open learning materials for online use. However, this information can be used for classroom teaching. In general, MOOCs:
- open up a large number of opportunities for life-long learning;
- are an effective tool for competitive recovery on the international level;
- offer an opportunity to enroll in courses offered by prestigious universities;
- cover a broad range of study areas (humanities, physics and mathematics, natural science, social, etc);
- computerize educational process;
- present authentic video, audio or text information;
- are in English (some courses support multi-language or subtitles);
- use a variety of interactive learning tools (online group discussion, online laboratory, online tests, etc);
- are free or low cost education;
- have different durations of training (the courses vary from several weeks to a year) [1, 2, 6, 7, 9].
Despite numerous advantages of MOOCs’ applications in education, there exist a number of drawbacks:
- a large percentage of enrolled learners for a course do not complete it;
- poor assessment system of student’s independent work;
- poor encouragement of learner interaction with the instructor and other learners;
- immersion in another culture (orientation to other values);
- blurring of national identities;
- complexity or even impossibility to self-study the basic theory independently;
- most universities offering MOOCs do not award credit for them [3, 4, 5, 10].
The course completion issues can be partially explained by the fact that some people who enrolled for a course did it out of curiosity, or desire to see the contents of the lectures and evaluate the presented educational material.
It is impossible to imagine modern education without globalization and developing a free, open-minded personality who can be highly competitive both on local and international labour markets. Thus the quality of training specialists becomes the key moment in the organization of the educational process. Electronic support of education becomes a popular trend in distance education [7, 9]. Increased interest to distant educational technology makes new demands to training programs to ensure the quality of future specialists and employ competency-based learning.
The Russian market of distance training is developing in comparison with the global market. However, practically all higher educational institutions successfully introduce e-learning, Web-based learning and distance training to enhance and support classroom teaching. Offering MOOCs for Russian students, a lecturer should prepare students for an «inverted» studying model (in some MOOCs learners study theory independently and then ask instructors questions on-line), incline students towards respectful and interested way of interacting with international colleagues and learn in advance specific, subject-related English terms with students.
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- Introduction to MOOCs: avalanche, illusion or augmentation? http://iite.unesco.org/pics/publications/en/files/3214722.pdf (accessed February 13, 2015).
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- MOOCs: opportunities for their use in compulsory-age education. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/moocs-opportunities-for-their-use-in-compulsory-age-education (accessed February 13, 2015).