Want to go to Harvard or Stanford without all the travel?  Massive open online courses (MOOC) may be what you are looking for.  So far, however MOOCs are a good idea that many people start but few actually finish.  Prof. Robert Grossman of Marist discusses the MOOC movement in HR Magazine.  Prof. Grossman writes that MOCC’s are

Designed for large-scale participation and free access via the Web, a typical MOOC lecture is self-paced, short—maybe 10 or 15 minutes—and spiced with multimedia components. Professors highlight issues as well as pose and answer questions based on “crowdsourcing” of information that participants submit. After each session, students take quizzes to verify that they understand the material. They also discuss content among themselves; interaction often leads to Facebook and LinkedIn chats or even face-to-face meetings. Students take exams and a final, submit reports, and grade other students’ essays.  Anyone can sign up, and there are no prerequisites. MOOCs are free, although some require fees for certificates of completion or charge tuition for college credit

A number of big named universities as well as business leaders have signed on to the idea of online learning.  While there are clearly a number of advantages, such as cost and accessibility, to this type of learning environment there are a number of downsides to MOOCs.  Most notably, hardly any students actually finish MOOCs..

McFarland says the 3.48 percent completion rate is typical among MOOCs. Published reports claim about 10 percent of students finish such courses.