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MOOCs and Participatory Citizenship


I've had a few friends and colleagues participate in MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, but I've personally never participated in one. Why not? Probably because I have been enrolled as a student in more traditional academic environments and working full time for the past 6 years or more. MOOCs have become popular in the recent years, and I could see myself participating in one after my current program is complete. Although some critique MOOCs as being ineffective compared to traditional schools and courses, I find this comparision to be unnecessary. Each serves a unique purpose in the development and progress of society and humanity. Traditional and blended academic environments allow the learner to engage directly with the instructor, and some may benefit from this environment more than a digital experience. The strength of MOOCs is that they are an exceptional means for encouraging "participatory citizenship" and can engage citizens on a broad network breaking down geographic and social barriers. MOOCs also enable and empower participants to network and accomplish shared goals with those who have similar interests. They have the ability to solve problems of social and civic natures by focusing on individual strengths for the progress of the group. I look forward to seeing how MOOCs will be utilized to address and solve social and civic challenges of the future.

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