What are MOOCs?

Published by kiwikids on

MOOCs have been around education for sometime. But, what exactly are they?


Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are free online courses that allow learners unrestricted participation to educational courses. MOOCs provide conventional modes of teaching such as lectures, videos and reading material. An important aspect of MOOCs is that they have an interactive forum for learners to communicate.

At the completion of a course learners are often given an online certificate or badge for the completion of the course.


MOOCs were first started in 2008, created by George Siemens and Stephen Downs. The course was called “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge/2008” or CCK08. It was created as a credit course for the University of Manitoba. CCK08 had 25 students who had paid fees for the course and around 2200 learners who took the course for free.

However, MOOCs really took off in 2012, when Professors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig of Stanford University offered an online course entitles “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”. Over 1.5million learners from 190 countries completed the course. Following this Thrun and Nrovig started a business for MOOcs called Udacity . There are also a few other MOOCs providers, include Coursera and EdX.


  • cMOOCs are MOOCs that allow for dynamic development of study material. Instead of having a pre-planned set of reading materials, ideas and content is developed through online discussions among learners.
  • xMOOCs, provide a conventional approach where the courses are structured with pre-selected reading and reference materials.


1. Courses are offered for free
2. Access to courses offered by leading experts. 
3. Courses are available to huge numbers of learners around the world. 
4. Learners’ performance can be monitored easily.
5. Can be used as a tool in a blended learning program, where students can access more information than what is provided in the class.


1. Can’t provide for personalised course work and attention from a teacher.
2. It is difficult to keep track of students’ involvement.
3. Learners with disabilities and a poor Internet connection can’t use MOOCs
4. Language can be a barrier while offering MOOCs
5. MOOCs are not seen as legitimate qualifications.

Though there are a few drawbacks, MOOCs have a lot of potential for reinventing the way we learn. Personally I believe that there is real

Further Reading:
Krause, S. D., & Lowe, C. (Eds.). (2014). Invasion of the moocs : the promises and perils of massive open online courses. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com 
Pomerol, J., Epelboin, Y., & Thoury, C. (2015). Moocs : design, use and business models. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com 

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