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The MOOC Challenge: Squeezing a 4-year BA in a 12-month crash program

by / / Blog, Higher Education, Massive Open Online Course, MOOC

Jonathan Haber and Scott Young are testing out the efficiency, integrity, and ultimate usefulness of MOOCs. Jonathan Haber documents in his blog, Degree of Freedom, his attempt to complete a 4-year Liberal Arts BA exclusively through online learning in just twelve months. Scott Young has previously —and successfully — done a similar experiment, although a bit more challenging. In 12 months, he completed 33 MIT courses – courses actual MIT Computer Science students take. Although he didn’t receive any accreditation for this, he passed all exams and completed all programming projects.

MOOCs offer unprecedented opportunities for learning and self-directed education. We’re no longer restricted financially or geographically. Courses and diplomas are a few clicks away and the best part is that SAT scores and other university-entry credentials don’t matter in MOOC-land. All one needs is focus, an internet connection and time.

Jonathan Haber and Scott Young are showing how education is changing. Education is becoming more accessible, and flexible.

With less than $2000, Scott Young completed an MIT Computer Science program in his own unconventional yet seemingly effective manner. All he paid for was the actual knowledge he had to access, the textbooks, everything else was offered free online by MIT. He didn’t have to pay for the campus life experience, the faculty support or the networking.

The propagation of MOOCs is without doubt overhauling higher education. Being still in its infancy, there are still issues to attend to regarding accreditation and integrity.


Technology makes independent learning as a lifelong pursuit a reality, offering everyone the opportunity to grow. The 21st century, digital education model calls for self-motivated learners, who aggressively take their education in their own two hands. Ultimately, does it matter in how much time or through which medium you get your education from? What are your thoughts? Would you hire someone who showed the tenacity to attend a years worth of MOOCs to learn about a specific subject? Leave a comment below and let us know!


Scott Young talks about his MIT challenge

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