I like the idea of MOOCs — massive open online courses — as ways to help spread the information at universities to a wider public. I don’t like the idea that these can replace real universities, though. It buys into the assumption that what universities deliver is big brains talking at a passive audience, when that’s only a small part of the experience. Scicurious is unimpressed, too.
Look, you want to learn? These online courses are a good supplement, and give you an opportunity to hear from experienced instructors. But if you really want to dig deep, there’s the disciplined grind as you try to master the minutia of a subject, there’s the hands-on lab experience, there’s give-and-take with peers and professors that you really need to bring it home. MOOCs just don’t do that.