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value of a MOOC certificate

Yahya Elyasse
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 510

The question that most don't ask : If you complete a MOOC course successfully and got a certain certificate from the organization offering this MOOC , will this certificate be of any value when you apply for a job?
there are legal and administrative issues that are still problematic and we don't know how the industries and the employment market with deal with these massive students who succeffully complete such MOOc courses.

your thoughts?
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30752
    
156

Yahya,
I interview people regularly. I wrote a rebutal to the complaints about peer review. The response to that was that the original poster and I had completely opposite views of what Coursera was for. I felt it should be learning. He felt it should be credit/recognition. Which then prompted me to write this response in the forum:

I do interviews at work. If someone took an online not for credit course, I'd see that as a good thing. Learning and initiative. That happens regardless of whether your peer review grades are accurate. Until Coursera, EdX and Udacity offer actual proctored exams, it is not a for credit course. (Udacity is already starting down this road.) And whether you got a 70% or 100% is a self cited figure that is irrelevant to me on a resume. And when they do offer proctored exams, peer review becomes even more emphasis on learning than a grade.

I don't understand what difference peer review makes on your CV. Even for an entry level position, you get a certificate you can show at interviews/reference on the CV. Suppose your peer reviewers all fail you with a 50%. You can still get a 70% and pass the overall class.


and then

Peer grading is only partially broken. In some cases, it provides good feedback. But not in the majority of cases. (I'd like to add this was the case in my undergraduate and graduate studies as well. I went to undergrad at a physical school and grad in an online program (Regis University.) However, peer review/grading wasn't a significant part of the grade,

What I disagree on is that fixing peer grading is relevant to whether coursera grades will ever count for something. Even if peer review was perfect, I have no way to know who did the work. Which goes back to some sort of proctored system. At that point peer review becomes a feedback/learning operation and not an integral part of the grade.


Ultimately, the biggest problem for recognition is the lack of proctored exams. Udacity is already starting to try to solve that problem. But there is a big difference between recognition as a for credit class and nothing. When I went to entry level interviews, I brought my (free at the time) BrainBench certificate that said I knew Java. It didn't prove I knew Java and folks didn't take it as such. They did take it as initiative and a good thing.

So by all means, complete the classes. You learn. You show initiative. You interview stronger (presuming you actually learn and don't just go through the motions) by knowing the material. However, if an employer is choosing between someone who took a bunch of 100% online MOOC classes vs someone with an accredited degrees, I think it would favor the actual degree.

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Matthew Brown
Bartender

Joined: Apr 06, 2010
Posts: 4421
    
    8

Absolutely agree with that. I could see myself getting quite hooked on Coursera (I've recently started my first two courses), because I enjoy learning and I find being enrolled on something with assessment improves my motivation over just reading a book. And I'd talk about my studies there in an interview if it was relevant. But I'd never bother quoting my scores to anyone, because as proof of learning they're worthless.

I do some teaching for the Open University - a large distance learning University in the UK. They do blended learning (books, DVDs, online, face-to-face tutorials etc). But beyond the level one courses almost every module has an exam taken at an official exam centre. I think they'd love to reduce the amount of exams as an assessment strategy, but they're the only assessment they have where you can have any confidence that the person enrolled on the course has actually done the work.
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8829
    
    5
Programmers have a unique vehicle to help them find work, it's called "github".

I've talked with several hiring managers recently, and they're using github as apart of their hiring process.

So if I was looking for a programming job, my orientation would be "How can I prove that I know how to doGoodStuff()?"

I would use books, courses, moocs, whatever, not to show accreditation, but for the purpose of getting good enough that I could contribute on github.

The hiring managers I talked to said that they favor github over degrees.


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Yahya Elyasse
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 510

I Agree with all that you guys have mentioned.

Even the MOOC proponents don't pretend -i hope i'm not wrong- that the MOOC model will replace the traditional education model known hundreds of years ago. The presence of a 'physical Teacher' ; his psych , charisma and human presence give a very important dimension to the learning process. MOOC model will never be able to replace that. I think they meant MOOC to be a complementary learning method that complements the real basic education that you should have started in a real physical school or university.

However at the 90ies when i was studying in university and sometimes i don't find the teacher of a certain course very inspiring or he/she sometimes makes me hate the course allover. in these cases if MOOC were presents those 90ies days i would forget about this looser 'physical' teacher and try enroll in a MOOC course and study online. Maybe i could find the MOOC professor better and offering some added value that i can't find in my 'physical' professor.

So It seems we are in the same page. But MOOC guys shouldn't try pushing this model unrealistically and start misusing it. this way they will ruin the educational system rather than making it better.

Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30752
    
156

Bert Bates wrote:The hiring managers I talked to said that they favor github over degrees.

On some level I get this - it proves the person knows how to code and apply what he/she learned. On another, it worries me that candidates will know how to code but not understand. I interview a lot of "Java developers" that can only code by piecing together existing code but can't write something new on their own.

I don't think that worry is there yet since most developers don't contribute to github at all. So we haven't gotten up to "resume building by having others put stuff on github." Or maybe these hiring managers actually evaluate what they see on github is original and good.
Yahya Elyasse
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 510

However If The MOOC Model is not a reliable tool to deliver certifications and degrees to students taking it ; and if it remains only a helper side effect tool. why are companies like couresera and udacity investing in this business? what will their revenue be?
I'm probably aware that most of the revenue will be by selling the Big data mining that they will be collecting from thousands of students and their AI system registering every student behavior during the course.
beside that the MOOc then will deliver no new value to give credit for the people using and studying theses courses?
I know knowledge by itself is quit an interesting gain you take from theses courses ; but I suppose in future they could come up with a system for delivering credits to students taking these courses which are not easy courses ! but rather very challenging and important courses that probably could be better 100 times than same courses delivered in some other conventional universities with low level quality but high fees!

I know the MOOC guys still face challenging problems to make thir system a real competing model with traditional on compus learning. But what i want to know is do they really go toward this goal? to replace or challenge the traditional educational system?
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30752
    
156

Right now I think they are just proving the model can educate lots of people and using us as beta testers for the courses.

Udacity is getting close to being recognized by offering proctored exams for a course or two.

It's not that the model can't ever work. It's that it struggles as is.
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8829
    
    5
The stuff I've read about Moocs leaves me feeling that they're still very weak on providing credible assessments of their students' skills acquisition. In the end, it doesn't matter to me *how* someone gets better at something, what matters is that they do, and good assessment is how you know.
Yahya Elyasse
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 510

Well It is clear MOOC will never be a replacement for traditional education . As was the case for television didn't ended radio and Amazon didn't ended printed books ect..
The Traditional systems will continue and survive. probably by slight changes in their methods and strategies to adapt to the challenges from these disruptive models ; as MOOC for education & Amazon for printed book etc..
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1772
    
  14

There's been a discussion about this on the Coursera Scala course forums over the last few days, and the general view seems to be that the certificate is worth little or nothing. One or two people even claimed it would influence them against a candidate, as it would suggest somebody was studying instead of coding (I didn't entirely follow the logic here). Another issue is that it is possible to cheat on the assignments e.g. if people post the solutions online at Github or wherever. On the other hand, I think these courses can be valuable in that they give you a structured approach to learning new stuff that you might not learn from a book, where it's easy to skip the "hard" stuff or the things you think you'll never need. Depending on how quick/smart you are, the Scala course represents maybe 7-10 days' effort, which makes it comparable to a commercial training course, so maybe these courses should be treated on that basis.

Also, there are different kinds of online training. I'm part way through the O'Reilly School of Technology Python certificate (4 independent modules of around 80 hours each, certificate validated by the University of Illinois) which I think is a much better course in terms of ensuring you have to demonstrate your learning, as you have a personal tutor checking your work and providing useful feedback, and you have to complete some reasonably challenging programming assignments along the way. Having experienced some pretty useless commercial training courses in the past, I'd definitely rate these O'Reilly courses higher. I doubt any potential employer will set much store by this certification, but it will certainly represent more effort and practical work than the Coursera course, even if the Scala course is challenging in terms of the new functional programming paradigm. And once again, the structure of the course ensures I learn things I might not have looked at if I were working on my own.

Finally, I've done a lot of courses (not just IT) over the years with the UK Open University, and their courses are certainly on a par with university-level study in the subjects I've explored, although they often have a distinctive approach because the OU's original motivation when it was created in the 1960s was to provide access to university education for adult learners who had not been able to follow the conventional route into higher education.

So I think it's probably wise to avoid blanket statements about online training, certification and so on, because there is simply too much variation. Coursera/Udacity are just one more flavour in the mix.

@Matt: Which courses do you teach with the OU? Maybe I should sign up!


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Matthew Brown
Bartender

Joined: Apr 06, 2010
Posts: 4421
    
    8

chris webster wrote:@Matt: Which courses do you teach with the OU? Maybe I should sign up!

I teach on a second level module called "Software development with Java". Basically it's an introduction to object-oriented analysis and design, taking students through the whole software development lifecycle (using Java to illustrate concepts - there's another course that actually teaches the language).

I'm an "associate lecturer", which means I've got a similar role to the personal tutor you mention on your O'Reilly course. I mark and provide feedback on assignments, run some tutorials (face-to-face and online), and I'm available to answer any queries by email. I have a group of 20-25 students for each presentation. As it happens, my latest group of lucky students have their end of course exam this afternoon .

I've also been a student with them - about 10 years ago I completed a post-graduate diploma in computing, and I've taken a couple of foreign language courses for "fun" since then.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1772
    
  14

Matthew Brown wrote:I've also been a student with them - about 10 years ago I completed a post-graduate diploma in computing, and I've taken a couple of foreign language courses for "fun" since then.

I did a few of the PG CCI diploma modules back in the late 1990s (OO with Smalltalk, Java programming, relational databases), although I decided the diploma was going to cost me more in fees than I would gain in extra earnings. Since then, it's been mostly science (the astronomy courses are great), and I've just started a maths course on statistics, which is "fun" too - the OU brand of "fun" is incredibly addictive. I sometimes wonder if it would be more sociable (and probably cheaper) if I took up golf instead, but I really don't like the dress-code...
Matthew Brown
Bartender

Joined: Apr 06, 2010
Posts: 4421
    
    8

chris webster wrote:I did a few of the PG CCI diploma modules back in the late 1990s (OO with Smalltalk, Java programming, relational databases)

Yes, those are the ones (though I never did the Java course). I was actually working for them full time back then, so got discounted tuition as a perk.
Yahya Elyasse
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 510

Isn't the prices in OU (UK) too high? I tried a couple of years ago to start a degree program with OU but found that only one single course could cost up to 3000£ !
the open education is supposed to be less expensive? or am i having it wrong and the right thing is to make it Too expensive for ordinary students without work or income?
Matthew Brown
Bartender

Joined: Apr 06, 2010
Posts: 4421
    
    8

The OU has recently become much more expensive for UK students because of the recent changes in University fees mean they now get no money from government (they're affected in the same way as other Universities). For someone starting now it currently costs about half what a similar degree from another University would - about £4500 per year (for the equivalent of full-time - most students are part-time).

(If you were applying as an overseas student it's possible the pricing is completely different).
Mandar Khire
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 11, 2007
Posts: 501

Thanks Yahya Elyasse,
If you dont ask question in coderanch...i never get info about MOOC.
Thanks coderanch...i enroll multiple courses which i feel very interesting....no matter certificate has value or not...information is invaluable(most expensive)...
I contact first time people who get phd & much more educational qualification...
I feel why not i see this before... I see this question 2-3 days ago.
I miss lots of courses...


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