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 Thursday, January 31, 2013
Millions of students benefit from free online courses that offer dozens of institutions.

All shows that 2013 will be the year of the MOOC, or massive open online courses, for its acronym in English. A new way of teaching and learning in higher education content is spreading from the campus of the best universities anywhere in the world.

The phenomenon of MOOC born in the United States in the hands of a few visionaries, such as the artificial intelligence theorist and ex  professor of Stanford, Sebastian Thrun. Although early experiences have several decades, it was not until 2012 that the phenomenon has become massive. During the last 12 months born major technology platforms to which universities have engaged their courses.

"It has emerged everything, since to being top chefs, learn to be more artistic, master in new sports, new tools, new programming languages, other languages and to become better teachers", wrote in their blog the Udacity responsible at the same time of their purposes for the new year. Created by Thrun and two colleagues, also they make clear its objectives in their mission statement: "Our mission is to provide higher education to the world in an accessible, attractive and effective way. We believe that higher education is a basic human right and we intend to empower our students to develop their skills so they can advance their careers". In just one year since its founding, Udacity has enrolled more than 150,000 persons.

At glance Udacity's web gives an idea of what you can learn in a MOOC. There are introductory courses in computer science or physics, artificial intelligence learning intermediate or advanced courses in programming and applied cryptography and robotics.

But more important is the content and philosophy of the MOOC. Like previous learning platforms are online. No matter where you find one, just a decent connection to sign up. But now are massive, in theory you can register as many people as you want. The MOOC are also open, which brings with it its free. It is a fundamental point of the philosophy in which it is based on: democratize and globalize higher education.

Although the phenomenon of individual initiatives came out from great teachers (Thrun and others), universities also have joined to this initiative. The MIT and Harvard University created edX, a massive online courses platform, to which have joined other senior centers as Berkeley College in Georgetown or Wesleley, last December. With the addition of the last two centers, edX also goes a step further in the contents. But if it is to have universities, the broadest platform is Coursera. Also born in 2012 now has more than two million students, making it the largest university in the world.

In the background of the coming revolution there is a change in the educational paradigm.

(Source: El Comercio NewsPaper)