What are Massive open online courses (MOOCs)?
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Millions of people are learning in thousands (more than 8,000) of MOOCs offered by prestigious universities (more than 700) worldwide. A MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is a free, massive, open, online course, that allows unlimited participation. Some MOOCs can be relatively small in scale, while some can be quite large.
MOOCS are asynchronous, open-access, Web-based courses geared toward enrolling hundreds or thousands of students at a time. MOOCs deliver content via recorded video lectures, online readings, and online assessments, as well as various degrees of student-student and student-instructor interaction.
By their nature, MOOCs can accommodate students of similar interests from a wide range of backgrounds, experience, and location around the world. Similarly, most MOOCS are free of cost, further increasing their accessibility to anyone interested. Some MOOCs offer certifications, which range from statements of accomplishment for meeting minimum course standards to verified certificates for passing proctored exams; most MOOCs, though, do not count for college credit.
There are two main types of MOOCs: xMOOCs and cMOOCs:
xMOOCs are based on traditional course structures and make use of established teaching approaches and materials. Students will watch pre-recorded lectures, complete required readings, and participate in discussions as produced and curated by the course instructor or an instructional team from a higher education institution. xMOOCs are typically self-contained and rarely if ever utilize content external to the main content delivery and learning platform.
cMOOCs are based on connectivist learning models that privilege collaboration as a form of active learning. Students in a cMOOC will work together to locate, evaluate, and contribute course content, uploading materials (tweets, blog posts, blogs, wikis, etc.) to the course using the learning platform. A cMOOC instructor or instructional team facilitates learning by finalizing, aggregating, and assessing the students’ contributions to the course.
Even as other asynchronous online courses, have been available for decades, MOOCs are one of the most recent evolutions in online learning, due to their asynchronous nature, global reach, relationship to college credit, and fully-online design and delivery. Due to their immediate and ongoing popularity for both current students and lifelong learners, MOOCs seem to be signaling several important trends that will continue for the foreseeable future.
As educational technologies, instructional design and online learning/content delivery platforms keep evolving, more learners with more needs and motives will be drawn to taking online courses – a growing demand that in turn will spur further improvements in technology and delivery. From this, it seems that future online learning options will need to focus on leveraging technologies to create personalizable learning experiences that meet diverse student needs (accreditation, affordability, and access, among others) instead of simply looking toward content delivery.
MOOCs offer a strong starting point for a number of reasons, including:
- Lack of entry requirements – a MOOC can be taken by anyone who is interested in the subject matter and able to access the course, regardless of age, background, or location
- Repetition – a MOOC will often run two or three times a year, ensuring that students won’t miss their chance
- High quality – MOOCs are led by subject matter experts (SMEs) and supported by teaching assistants so that students have access to first-rate educational resources
- Feasibility – a MOOC usually necessitates around 1-2 hours of study a week for about 5 weeks, making learning doable for students with busy lives
- Self-paced but supported learning – a MOOC enables students to work through the course materials and assessments at their own rates while also interacting with a global learning community
Also, as discussed above, most MOOCs are free and all are accessible to any learner with an internet connection and basic computer equipment. Dropping out of a MOOC also carries less penalties than it would for a traditional college-level class, and students’ is marked by peer review and/or automatically-marked tests, decreasing stress and burdens even further.
MOOCs are open, large-scale web-based courses designed and delivered by accredited higher education institutions and organisations in which anyone with a smart device and internet connection can participate, regardless of age, gender, geographic location, or education background. (1)
The first-generation cMOOCs embraced a decentralized, learner-centred approach; the second-generation xMOOCs were characterized by teacher-centred teaching and learning; the third-generation hybrid MOOCs took a more pragmatic approach by combining the two previous approaches; to diversify learning opportunities and to reach a broader audience. (2)
MOOCs are online learning environments that allow students to take courses on a wide variety of subjects with no restrictions and the least economic burden. (3)
MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and represents an instructional approach that permits hundreds of thousands of students to access online courses anywhere around the world and typically free of charge. (4)
MOOCs are online courses without entrance requirements other than Internet access. Consequently, MOOCs are free for the learners and do not set a maximum number of participants. (5)
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer people the opportunity to study a variety of courses for a variety of reasons, including personal interest, professional development, and social networking. Likewise, the MOOCs themselves vary in intended purpose, in terms of how designers intend their MOOC to serve the needs of prospective students, especially in addressing intrinsic goals (e.g., general interest), or extrinsic goals (e.g., professional development). (6)
- Deng, R., Benckendorff, P., & Gannaway, D. (2019). Progress and new directions for teaching and learning in MOOCs. Computers & Education, 129, 48-60.
- Zawacki-Richter, O., Bozkurt, A., Alturki, U., & Aldraiweesh, A. (2018). What research says about MOOCs–An explorative content analysis. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(1).
- Jung, Y., & Lee, J. (2018). Learning engagement and persistence in massive open online courses (MOOCS). Computers & Education, 122, 9-22.
- Weinhardt, J. M., & Sitzmann, T. (2019). Revolutionizing training and education? Three questions regarding massive open online courses (MOOCs). Human resource management review, 29(2), 218-225.
- Castaño-Muñoz, J., Kalz, M., Kreijns, K., & Punie, Y. (2018). Who is taking MOOCs for teachers’ professional development on the use of ICT? A cross-sectional study from Spain. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 27(5), 607-624.
- Brooker, A., Corrin, L., De Barba, P., Lodge, J., & Kennedy, G. (2018). A tale of two MOOCs: How student motivation and participation predict learning outcomes in different MOOCs. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 34(1).