What’s a MOOC?!

A MOOC is a Massive Online Open Course. The basic idea is that various institutes of learning will allow people to essentially audit courses for free, or even to pay a fee to gain various types of credit, from certificates, which have limited use, to actual college credit. Details vary according to who is offering the course, but the learner is the one who decides if they wish to learn simply for curiosity and the love of learning (most common) or if they want to earn some sort of certificate or some other validation of the time spent learning (less common).

There are several websites that specialize in hooking people up with such courses, with just a few being coursera.org, udemy.com and edx.org. You can find out so much about these courses and how they work at various sites around the web, but Forbes posted a good summary recently about the future of MOOCs. Additionally, you may find the following illustration helpful in understanding how an MOOC works:

MOOC_poster_mathplourde

Basically this illustration asks several questions pointing out that the concept remains in the evolutionary stages despite being a web presence for quite some time. So, when you go to various outlets to experience an MOOC you won’t necessarily find the same experience as any other site. Some learners find this exciting, some frustrating. The MOOC doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, so, let’s look at how one in particular works.

I signed up for a course on coursera.org:

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As I became a registered, free user I was given limited access to class materials: I can follow along, complete readings and assignments but cannot take tests or quizzes or receive any sort of grade. To gain these features I would need to pay a fee to participate officially in Berklee College of Music courses. The fact that I have that option demonstrates one of the advantages of an MOOC–choice.

So, here’s just one example of what I can get for free: a video lecture from the teacher:

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As I progress through the course I will share the progress and, when the course is complete, I will give my opinion on how helpful (or not) I felt the course was.

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Taking a High School Equivalency Test in Tennesse

Taking a High School Equivalency test in Tennessee

Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the GED—it’s the test that for years we have known one could take to earn a high school diploma instead of graduating in the conventional sense. Did you know that the GED is no longer offered in the state of Tennessee? The new official test is the HiSET (High School Equivalency Test).

It can be a bit confusing to figure out how to take the official HiSET and earn a diploma, so here is the process, according to Customer Service for the HiSET test.  Essentially one is required to first take the official practice test for the HiSET. For Memphis here are the official sites where one may do so:

Building Address City Zip Phone
Idlewild Presbyterian Church 1750 Union Avenue Memphis 38104 844-721-8800
Midtown Church of Christ 1930 Union Avenue Memphis 38104 844-721-8800
Randolph Library – Memphis Public Library 3752 Given Avenue Memphis 38122 844-721-8800
Memphis & Shelby County Office of Re-Entry 1362 Mississippi Blvd. Memphis 38106 844-721-8800
Workforce Investment Network 480 Beale Street Memphis 38103 844-721-8800
Sexton Community Center 1235 Brown Avenue Memphis 38126 844-721-8800

Once the practice test is officially passed, the tester will receive the paperwork necessary to schedule and take the official test. Once the official test is satisfactorily passed then the individual is now a holder of an official diploma, valid in all states!

Paying for College

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/payingforcollege/costcomparison/

Paying for College is a new website from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It helps students calculate on a worksheet how much they would owe in student loans after graduating from college. A cost comparison guide on 7,500 different colleges and universities is provided. Estimated debt after going to school is listed. Average Grants and Scholarships are calculated into the price. Information on graduation and student loan default rates are also mentioned.