TechCrunch has reported that Google has launched its first ever Massive Open Online Course. “Making Sense of Data” is the name of the search engine’s first stab at a MOOC, an area of online learning that is growing in popularity due to its global accessibility and no cost. Being experts at data themselves, Google would be the obvious choice for launching a course in this subject matter, but has the data giant chosen the most effective learning tool to get the information across? Thousands of people can sign up to a MOOC, but research has shown that less than 10% actually complete a course. So from Google’s side, is it just a publicity stunt? Or a genuine attempt at making education available to everybody?
Making Sense Of Data - the new online course from Google
We know already that MOOCs have a high dropout rate. But that is not the only concern for students. When a global giant like Google decides to launch an educational project in surveys, research and data students need to ask themselves if their education is coming from an unbiased source.
What exactly is Google getting out of it? Free education is a wonderful thing, but does Google have another agenda? If a company is offering something for free there is usually something in it for them.
In terms of publicity for Google it certainly makes for a great headline - answering the White House’s call for more data science-literate workers-, but the benefits to the students seem to be few and far between: what they’re being taught is not coming from an impartial source, and as a method of learning MOOCs are failing to deliver, as students require support and motivation to complete a program, not just the facts themselves. It almost feels like Google are jumping onto the free, global education bandwagon with no further thought than to be seen to be at the forefront of the latest trend.
TechCrunch’s Gregory Ferenstein warns users to be careful.
A public course in data wrangling from one of the premier companies in the business is a very cool tool, but one that comes with its own unique set of baggage.