SEOUL, July 11 (Korea Bizwire) – If you have ever wondered what it would be like to sit in a classroom at a prestigious university and listen to lectures from world-renowned professors, K-MOOC does just that.
K-MOOC stands for Korea Massive Open Online Course, and offers free college lectures from some of the most reputable Korean universities to anyone with Internet access. The service first launched in October 2015, and in less than a year, it has accumulated over 1.3 million visitors.
The program was developed by the Ministry of Education and the National Institute for Lifelong Education, and it initially offered 27 courses from ten universities across Korea, including Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University.
Courses on K-MOOC cover a wide range of academic fields, from economics and creative thinking, to artificial intelligence and film studies, and the fact that many of the lectures are given by some of Korea’s most renowned scholars has also contributed to the platform’s rapid popularity. But most of all, the public was thrilled to see universities break down the educational barrier and disclose their high-reputation lectures for free.
Over 240,000 individuals visited the K-MOOC homepage in the first month of its launch, with more than 40,000 registering for courses. As of July 8, the number of visitors has exceeded 1.3 million, with 120,000 course registrations.
According to the ministry, 28 percent of the service users are in their 20s, with 18 percent in their 30s, and 20 percent in their 40s. The platform is becoming an important tool for prospective college students to discover various fields of study prior to applying to university, with officials revealing that 15.35 percent of the users are middle and high school students.
The overall satisfaction level with the courses was also high.
According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education from March 16 to March 24 (2,691 participants), 32.33 percent of the respondents replied ‘very satisfied with the lectures’, while 48.79 percent answered ‘satisfied with the lectures’, and 15.87 percent reported ‘average satisfaction’.
Furthermore, 66.8 percent of the respondents decided to take the lectures because of ‘pure intellectual interest or pastime’. This justification was followed by ‘for major-related studies’ (16 percent), ‘to improve career expertise’ (9 percent), ‘for career discovery, or employment’ (5.2 percent), and ‘for certificates and licenses’ (2.2 percent).
Following the service’s popularity, the ministry decided to increase the number of courses to 112, starting in September, while adding more universities to the roster. The courses will also become more categorized by university. For instance, Sejong University plans to offer a ‘Entertainment Software’ course that combines ICT and art, while Chonbuk National University will develop courses focusing on Korean traditional cuisine, Korean traditional homes (hanok), and pansori, a Korean genre of musical storytelling.
Moreover, there are attempts to connect these courses with actual university lectures for enrolled students. Starting this year, Ewha Woman’s University decided to accept K-MOOC lectures as valid school credits. Kyunghee and Pusan National Universities also decided to follow suit and recognize K-MOOC lectures as valid school courses.
“We’re planning to increase the number of lectures on K-MOOC to 300 in 2017, and we’re in the middle of discussing the matter with the Ministry of Strategy and Finance,” said a Ministry of Education official. “We’re also trying to increase the use of K-MOOC at a government level, and will be using the service for training public officers starting next year.”
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)