MET:MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)

From UBC Wiki

This page was originally authored by Carolyn Stewart (March 2012).
This page was edited by Jackie Da Ros (March 2013).
This page was edited by Christopher Chapman & Jules Seo (March 2014).

This page was edited by Patrick Conlan (February 2015).

This page was edited by Caleigh Minshall (January 2017).

The term MOOC (massive open online course) was first used in 2008 by Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander to refer to an online course (CCK08 - Connectivism and Content Knowledge) offered by Stephen Downes and George Siemens through the University of Manitoba. In this course, Downes and Siemens experimented with connectivism in an online course by allowing participants to interact in the form and space of their choice and create a new way of using the Internet for education [1]

A MOOC is a model of educational delivery that is, to varying degrees, massive, with theoretically no limit to enrollment; open, allowing anyone to participate, usually at no cost; online, with learning activities typically taking place over the web; and a course, structured around a set of learning goals in a defined area of study[2]

As a relatively new phenomenon, the precise definition of a MOOC continues to be debated and refined. MOOCs provide a promising new educational delivery model that some believe may be the impetus to revolutionize education.[3]

MOOC poster. Plourde, M. (2013, April 4).


MOOCs—which are by definition open, participatory, and distributed—represent a significant departure from previous pedagogical delivery models.

A MOOC integrates the connectivity of social networking, the facilitation of an acknowledged expert in a field of study, and a collection of freely accessible online resources. Perhaps most importantly, however, a MOOC builds on the active engagement of several hundred to several thousand “students” who self-organize their participation according to learning goals, prior knowledge and skills, and common interests. Although it may share in some of the conventions of an ordinary course, such as predefined timeline and weekly topics for consideration, a MOOC generally carries no fees, no prerequisites other than Internet access and interest, no predefined expectations for participation, and no formal accreditation [4]

As a digital and knowledge-based economy moves to the forefront, there is less certainty about the core curriculum required for learners—and society—to thrive in the future. In response to this societal shift, connectivist courses focus less on content and more on the skills and processes of participation and contribution. One of the underlying assumptions of a MOOC is that "successful participation in a MOOC parallels and scaffolds successful participation in the larger digital economy" (p. 6). [4]

The first MOOC (CCK08) was initially delivered to a group of 25 registered students who had paid to receive credit upon completion. The facilitators, George Siemens and Stephen Downes, then opened the course lectures, discussion forums, and online presentations to others who were interested (but not registered). More than 2200 non-registered participants joined in and reportedly enhanced the course experience for all through their additional contributions and conversations, much as they might in a conference, research lab, or workshop except that in this case their contributions were distributed across their own personal learning networks (e.g., blogs, wikis, Twitter) and fed back to the group through aggregation of RSS feeds [5]

File:MOOC Timeline.jpg
MOOC Evolution Timeline (Hill, 2012b)

Since 2008, numerous MOOCs have been developed and a number of prominent platforms, like Coursera and edX, have emerged. From 2012 to 2014, the number of courses offered has increased from 100 to over 1200[1] [6]. This growth has been attributed to 5 main factors: globalization and increasing internationalization in higher education; global population growth and the resulting increase in demand for higher education; an increasing number of lifelong learners and the resulting change in their requirements; increased access to personal technology and social media; and the need for more affordable sources of higher education[7]. However, as MOOCs continue to evolve, there are still a number of issues that will need to be addressed. Among these are economic sustainability, credentialing, completion rates, student authentication[8], and pedagogy.[7]



The most fundamental feature of the MOOC is its openness, which is present on many levels. First of all, there is openness for learners. Participation in a MOOC is free and open to anyone who has access to the Internet, and there is no minimum level of participation. There is also openness of content. Course materials are accessible for anyone to read and comment on. In addition, the work that is generated through the course (both by the facilitators and learners) is shared and available publicly. Finally, there is openness in terms of the learner's role. "When learners step through our open door, they are invited to enter our place of work, to join the research, to join the discussion, and to contribute in the growth of knowledge within a certain field" [5]. However, there is a difference in what is defined as openness by xMOOCs and cMOOCs; whereas xMOOCs are open in the sense that they provide open access to course material with relatively restricted licenses for content, cMOOCs are open access with a license that allows content to be used elsewhere [9]


There can be no MOOC without active participation. The contributions and discussions generated through participation are essential components of the course content. While participation and sharing are strictly voluntary, it is generally understood that the learning is enhanced by participation—both in the creation and sharing of personal contributions, and in the interactions with the contributions of others.


As a connectivist course, a MOOC is based on the idea that knowledge does not reside solely in the course content or the instructor, but rather is distributed across a network of participants. The course readings, and other materials made available, act as starting points for discussion and further thinking. Most of the course activity takes place in networked spaces outside the course page, where participants (both learners and educators, who also participate as learners) interact with the material (and each others' interpretations of it) and generate original digital content. This new content is then shared online and fed back to the MOOC participants through the use of RSS feed aggregators. [10]


A variety of ways to categorize MOOCs has arisen. Recently, MOOC has been categorized into two distinct directions based on different pedagogical emphasis and organisational models which are cMOOCs and xMOOCs. [11] Siemens (2012) claims that the majority of MOOCs currently available are primarily content-based and therefore digress from the original connectivist premise of a MOOC. He distinguishes between the two types by using the term cMOOCs to refer to fully networked courses with the goal of “knowledge creation” and xMOOCs to indicate the large scale courses for “knowledge reproduction”, provided by course platforms such as Cousera and edX, which are supported by major universities and follow the more traditional transmissive instructional model (para. 3).[12]

cMOOCs(the connectivist MOOCs)

cMOOCs are based on "connectivist distributed peer learning model. Courses are typically developed and led by academics through open source web platforms" (p.6)[11]. "The courses are built around a group of like-minded individuals who are relatively free from institutional constraints. cMOOCs provide a platform to explore new pedagogies beyond traditional classroom settings and, as such, tend to exist on the radical fringe of HE" (p. 7) [7]

e.g.) the original MOOC, Connectivism and Connective knowledge

xMOOCs(content-based MOOCs)

xMOOCs are "typically structured more conventional lecture formats and are increasingly delivered through proprietary learning management platforms with contractual relationships with institutions or individual academics" (p. 6).[11] "The instructional model (xMOOCs) is essentially an extension of the pedagogical models practised within the institutions themselves" (p. 7).[7]

e.g.) Coursera, edX, Udacity platforms


Types of MOOCs (Lane, 2012)

Lane (2012) [13] further differentiates MOOCs into three categories:

  • Networked-based MOOCs following the connectivist model of “socially constructed knowledge” (para. 4)
  • Task-based MOOCs using a variety of assignments in order to develop specific skills
  • Content-based MOOCs

Jansen (2012)[14] prefers to couple MOOCs to learning styles, of which he claims there are four types:

  • Learning by association using mnemonics, drills and imitation – content MOOCs/xMOOCs
  • Learning through active discovery such as exploration, experimentation and guided discovery – task-based MOOCs
  • Learning via dialogue such as discussion, debate, collaboration and knowledge-building – cMOOCs
  • Learning through participation in communities of practice, such as work-based or game-based learning – new type of MOOC

Whether or not a standard MOOC taxonomy will be adopted remains to be seen.


The duration of a MOOC is usually from 6 to 12 weeks [15]. While most of the content is delivered asynchronously, MOOC providers also open synchronous events (e.g.'live' seminars) where participants may join in at specific times.

Video lectures

Video lectures in MOOC have various presentation styles, "from talking heads to interviews to picture in picture" [16]. The running time for the lecture videos is usually 5-10 minutes each with in-video quizzes embedded.


Assignments are primarily evaluated through the use of:

  • auto-graded multiple choice questions or auto-graded programming assignments
  • peer review assessment where students themselves evaluate and grade assignments based on a defined rubric set. [16]


Forums are where students post questions and other students answers, and are the main method of student interaction between course takers and instructors. Forums usually consist of multiple threads including: "general discussion, subject-specific discussion, course feedback, and technical feedback" [16]


Most MOOCs do not require students to buy books, and most readings are available online or provided by course instructors; however, Coursera does make money through an affiliate program with[17]


When MOOCs were initially introduced to the mainstream population, the vast majority of the subjects were concentrated in the fields of Engineering and Computer Science. However, these fields have both been eclipsed by Humanities, which now represents 20% of the courses that are offered through MOOCs. Other fields with a significant MOOC presence include: Business & Management, Science, Health & Medicine, Education & Teaching, Math & Statistics, and the Social Sciences.[6][2]


While roughly three-quarters of MOOCs are in English[6], the number of non-English MOOCs is growing. In addition to its English courses, Coursera currently offers courses in Mandarin Chinese, French, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Turkish, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian and Japanese[3], while edX offers courses in Mandarin Chinese and French.[4]

Some examples of non-English MOOC providers include:

Most of these MOOCs use edX's open-source platform.



CCK08 - Connectivism and Content Knowledge was the first MOOC in 2008 and had approximately 2200 participants. Registrants learned about and practiced connectivism under the instruction of George Siemens and Stephen Downes, with logistical support from the University of Manitoba, Dave Cormier, and Stephen Downes. They included 24 students who paid fees to the University of Manitoba and 2200 non-paying participants. Only the paying participants submitted assignments and received credit for the course.

File:CCK08 course network.png
CCK08 Course Network (Downes, 2011)

Stephen Downes (2009, para. 4) describes the primary course components as including:

  • a wiki, in which the course outline and major links were provided
  • a blog, in which course announcements and updates were made
  • a Moodle installation, in which threaded discussions were held
  • an Elluminate environment, in which synchronous discussions were held
  • an aggregator and newsletter, in which student contributions were collected and distributed

Participants were also encouraged to create their own course components (Second Life communities, blogs, Wordle summaries, concept maps, Google groups, etc.), which were linked to the course structure.

Due to the number of resources available, students had to choose the resources, and network with the participants, that they found most personally relevant and interesting. “We could not, nor did we try, to provision everything that was needed for 2200 students. Rather, we created conditions, and encouragements, where participants would provide additional resources for themselves” (para. 15).[18]


Digital Storytelling 106 is a computer science course that continues to be offered by Jim Groom at the University of Maryland focused on designing, building and describing the process of creating an online identity using a variety of emergent technologies.

The About DS106 (n.d) webpage describes the course objectives as:

  • Developing skills using technology for networking, sharing, narrating and self-expression
  • Developing a digital identity
  • Critically examining various forms and types of communication technologies


Learning and Knowledge Analytics 2011 was an introductory course on the role of analytics in learning and knowledge development offered by the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) at Athabasca University in January 2011.

The course was not for credit but for professional development and to raise awareness of the role of analytics in education, learning and development and organizational efficiency.

The desired outcomes of the course[19] are for participants to be able to:

  1. Define learning and knowledge analytics
  2. Trace the developments of technologies and practices that influence learning and knowledge analytics
  3. Evaluate effective analytics methods and tools and contexts.
  4. Describe the potential of data-driven decision-making and how it differs from traditional decision-making.
  5. Design a learning analytics implementation plan for a course.
  6. Evaluate the potential impact of the semantic web and linked data on learning resources and curriculum.
  7. Detail the elements required to implement analytics in an organization.
  8. Describe and evaluate developing trends in learning and knowledge analytics and predict their potential impact.


CS221: Artificial Intelligence: Principles and Techniques was a course offered every year by Peter Norvig and Sebastein Thrun for about 200 students on campus at Stanford University [20] for designing computer software to address problems in gaming, language processing and robotics [21]. In 2011, they also offered it free online. As a result, 160,000 students from 190 countries enrolled in the course. Students were able to view course materials and recorded lectures, take quizzes, submit assignments and communicate with instructors online [22]. Non-enrolled students were only evaluated using multiple choice quizzes and exams that could be graded automatically. Although Stanford did not issue credit to the off-campus students, students who completed the course were provided with a statement of completion . Near the end of the term, Thrun also requested resumes from his top 1000 students and distributed the best ones to tech companies such as Google.[23]


MITx (2013) describes 6.002x as the online version of 6.002 - Circuits and Electronics, a course taught on campus at MIT by Anant Agarwal, Gerald Sussman and Piotr Mitros. “The course introduces engineering in the context of the lumped circuit abstraction”.[24] It is a required course for all MIT undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering or electrical engineering and computer science, and covers a number of related topics and includes design and lab exercises. Prerequisites include advanced placement level physics in electronics and magnetism, basic calculus and linear algebra, as well as some knowledge of differential equations.

It was offered in March 2012 as the first course on MIT’s MOOC platform MITx. The platform provided video lectures, virtual labs, and automatically graded assignments and labs. Of the 154,00 people who enrolled, 7,157 successfully completed the course and received a certificate of accomplishment. [25]


A number of MOOC platforms have been developed and more are being developed. The largest MOOC provider, with over 47% of MOOCs provided, is Coursera, followed by edX with 8.5% of the MOOCs provided [6]. MOOCs launched in 2013 included FutureLearn, Open2Study, iversity, and France Université Numerique.


The Coursera platform was founded in 2012 by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng , computer science professors from Stanford University partnered with Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania [26]. It now collaborates with over 100 universities in order to expand world access to high quality education by providing online courses that anyone can take for free [27]. Coursera has also introduced a mobile app for the iPhone (

Coursera courses are designed by the partner institutions [28] based on the following pedagogical principles:[27]

  • The efficacy of online learning
  • The importance of retrieval and testing for learning – lessons are frequently interrupted to check for understanding
  • Mastery Learning – students are given immediate feedback on concepts they did not understand and given the opportunity to repeat relevant assessments
  • Peer assessment – students are trained to use grading rubrics and are assessed by several peers
  • Active learning – by moving information transmission online, universities can implement more active learning strategies in the classroom.

Coursera's courses are free; however, students may pay in order to receive verified completion certificates through its signature track program or to receive a specialization certificate (which involves 3 courses and a capstone). Coursera also receives revenue from its affiliates program with when users purchase suggested course materials.[17]

The design features for Coursera courses generally involve a series of short video lectures (under 20 minutes in length), online quizzes with automated feedback, peer feedback for written work, and online forums.

Coursera has also incorporated the analysis of big data to refine their courses. Some examples of the way that Coursera has done this include:

  • the use of keystroke biometrics to verify student identities[29]
  • the shortening of courses to improve student retention [15]
  • changing the delivery of positive feedback [30]
  • changing the manner in which course reminder e-mails are delivered [30]


edX was originally a joint initiative by Harvard and MIT based in Cambridge, Massachusetts to offer online courses for its founding partners, and other universities as well, using the technological platform for MITx.[25] In addition to its Harvardx, MITX classes, BerkeleyX and UTx classes, edX offers classes from 28 additional partner universities in the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe, and South and East Asia[31]

The Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange was launched in December 2011 after five years of consultations between MIT administrators, faculty and student delegates discussing how to use technology to improve on-campus education [25]. It expands on the OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative, in which MIT put all the course materials for undergraduate and graduate courses online to encourage educators to share knowledge and resources to improve teaching [32]. Although enrollment and participation are free, there is a fee required to obtain completion certificates.[23]

In addition to providing online courses, MITx was designed to be a platform on which to conduct pedagogical experiments to compare the advantages/disadvantages of various instructional strategies on student performance [25]

File:MIT evolution.png
(Hardesty, 2012)

The president of edX, Anant Agarwal, believes that providing educational technologies free of charge “will give edX a size and global reach that will help it concentrate resources, establish technical standards, and realize economies of scale that will yield much more useful results much faster” (para. 18)[25]. To this end, the edX platform was developed as open-sourced software and made its source code available to other higher education institutions; this source code was made available on June 1, 2013 through its edX Platform Repository at[31]. edX is now partnering with Google, as well as experts at its partner universities, to build and operate, a new site for teachers, institutions and organizations to build and host their own MOOCs using the OpenX platform.

edX provides a variety of interactive learning tools for self-paced learning, such as online discussion forums, wiki-based collaborative learning, automated assessment, and online laboratories and interactivities[31]


“Udemy - The Academy of You” [33] was founded in 2010 in San Francisco, California by Eren Bali, Gagan Biyani and Oktay Caglar It is privately funded by investment companies that provide support and resources to help companies scale. Udemy’s goal is to democratize education by providing access to the top educators in the world and lowering the price of a quality education [34]. “Learn anything, teach anything at Udemy”.

Bali and Caglar began in Turkey by building a virtual classroom for Web 2.0 entrepreneurs in Europe to support those in Turkey. By the end of the project they owned the rights to the tool and decided to move to California to start a company that would allow educators to access it free of charge. They saw a need to help the many people trying to teach online who lacked the technological knowhow to do so effectively. They met Gagan Biyani at the Founder Institute while trying to learn more about entrepreneurship.

Biyani[35] lists Udemy’s three primary value propositions as:

  • The ability to upload a variety of content types
  • The provision of synchronous and asynchronous communication tools
  • Community support

Udemy makes it easy to create online courses by allowing anyone to upload content in any format and publish it on the Internet.The courses are then made available at a price determined by the course developer. Udemy revenue shares 80/20 with the content developers [35].


Udacity is “a play on the word ‘audacity’ and links to University and ‘you’, the student”.[36] This MOOC platform was launched in February, 2012 by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens and Mike Solosky, computer science and robotics scientists from Stanford University, with a mission “to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world” [36]. However, after admitting that Udacity had a "lousy product", Udacity shifted its focus towards developing professional development courses at a fee [37].

Udacity was developed following a Stanford University experiment in which Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig offered their CS221: Artificial Intelligence: Principles and Techniques course online for free and attracted over 160,00 students.[36]

Udacity courses include interactivities, quizzes, exercises, and closed captioned short video lectures and interviews with instructors and industry experts; they also include final projects that students can add to a skill portfolio[5].


Although MOOCs share many of the same benefits as conventional online learning, such as the ability to overcome barriers of time and place, they also:[38]

  • Promote, model, and scaffold digital literacy skills.
  • Support self-organization, critical thinking, and collaboration.
  • Connect people and knowledge across disciplines and institutions.
  • Value interest and willingness to learn over academic credentials.
  • Reduce financial and cultural barriers to participation.
  • Build personal learning networks.
  • Improve lifelong learning skills.

Other benefits of MOOCS are that they:[25]

  • Expand the pool of applicants prepared to undertake a university education.
  • Promote the participating universities.
  • Improve the professional standing and reputations of the faculty and departments involved.
  • Attract donors and collaborators.
  • Encourage user contributions in the form of source code and supplementary software.
  • May lead to more multi and interdisciplinary undergraduate education as students are provided with access to courses that they might not otherwise have.
  • May enhance on-campus education by reducing the time required to lecture and assess and providing faculty with more time for student interaction.


For participants

  • The volume of content generated can be overwhelming.
  • Distributed content can be difficult to locate and track.
  • Some degree of digital literacy is needed to participate.
  • Reading and responding to the massive amounts of content can be very time-consuming. [39]
  • “Whoever has the platform sets the rules and controls the game. Diversity will be pushed to the margins and Ellul’s fears will be realized in education as they have been realized in much of society” (para. 10). [40]

For designers

Some of the early challenges in regards to the design of MOOCs were identified as:[4]

  • The difficulty in supporting inquiry and knowledge-building.
  • "The breadth versus the depth of participation" (p. 41).
  • Identifying the processes and practices to encourage "lurkers" and "peripheral participants” to become more active.
  • Determining the impact or value of peripheral participation.
  • Developing strategies to maximize the effectiveness of contributions from facilitators and more advanced participants.

Since then, other challenges that have been identified include:[25]

  • Developing effective automated assessment systems.
  • Encouraging current and previous participants to provide feedback for current students.

These challenges facing the designers of MOOCs are summed up by George Siemens with the following quote:

"We can’t duplicate personal interaction without spending more money. We can scale content, but we can’t scale encouragement. We can improve lecturing through peer teaching, but we can’t scale the timely interventions and nudges by faculty that influence deeper learning” (para. 9).[41]


For learners

The MOOC, and open learning in general, presents significant implications for the way online courses will be conceived, delivered, and monetized in the future.[8] The emphasis on openness in its many forms situates both learners and educators in new territory. For learners, it creates increased need for digital skills, self-organization, and metacognition as they become "immersed within a community of practitioners and introduced to ways of doing the sorts of things that practitioners do".[42] The learner is no longer the recipient of knowledge as in conventional courses, but rather is an apprentice and co-constructor.

For educators

The facilitator's role is also very different in a MOOC than in a conventional online course. In addition to the usual tasks related to assembling and delivering core content and schedules, facilitators participate as learners and generate their own content. Educators also use aggregation tools to feed participant-generated content back to the main course platform to facilitate connections between learners and encourage further conversations.[10]

Since the connectivist learning environment places more emphasis on the learner and learning process than it does on the content and the instructor, Cormier and Siemens (2010) suggest some important roles educators can play to enhance the learning experience:[5]

File:Screen Shot 2012-03-04 at 12.46.01 AM.png
(Cormier & Siemens, 2010, p. 36)

Future Considerations

Hill[8] claims that four prominent obstacles must be overcome before MOOCs can become a sustainable model. They are developing self-sustaining revenue models, providing valuable credentials, increasing course completion rates and enabling accurate student authentication methods. Another obstacle raised by Yuan & Powell[7] is in relation to pedagogical issues.

Revenue models

MOOCs are very expensive to develop—Harvard and MIT have both contributed $30 million to establish edX[25]; the current cost of setting up one course ranges from $US 24,000 to $US 47,000.[43] Therefore, some way must be found to make them economically feasible, and a number of revenue generating possibilities have already been proposed. Some participating universities, such as the University of Texas (an edX partner) plan to charge for courses that offer degree credits.[44] Most institutes currently offer free completion certificates but plan to charge for course credit, if requested. Another option would be for the MOOC providers would be to become technology- and online-support services for colleges;[45] however, under this model they would cease to be ‘massive’ and ‘open’.

Commercial MOOC providers are now adopting the "Freemium to Premium" business model used by many technology and media start-ups.[9] For example, Coursera has followed the Google and Facebook examples by offering their service free to users and generating revenue streams through the large numbers of users.[26] However, revenue could also be generated by providing study and organizational aids, or complementary course materials.[23] Future possible sources of revenue include: face-to-face tutoring and/or assessment, employee recruiting and/or screening, revenue sharing with companies to provide their training courses on the platform, and corporate sponsorships.[29]


Anant Agarwal, president of edX, predicts that once the credibility of their platform is established, their completion certificates will be accepted for advanced standing in on-campus programs.[28] However, it may be necessary to provide several levels of credentialing once the characteristics and goals of interested online learners have been established.[26]

A related problem is how to automate grading. In their study, Yuan & Powell (2013) found that most of the assessment in MOOCs fit into two categories: multiple choice questions with automated answers and peer feedback.[7] New techniques have been proposed for developing more sophisticated automatic grading systems and trends are emerging to try to include feedback from a variety of sources such as machine algorithms, teachers, experts, and peers.[25]

Downes (2012) suggests there are two basic approaches to assessing and credentialing: 1) learning analytics, and 2) network clustering. In the first, you track all of the students' activities within the course to construct learning profiles. In the second, you assess each person’s learning by tracking specific network interactions that are characteristic of experts. Effective systems would have to be developed in order to implement either method.[46]

In a major step toward the accreditation of MOOCs, in January 2013, the American Council on Education approved 5 Coursera courses for college credit[6].[27] The courses that were approved for college credit include:

  • Introduction to Genetics and Evolution from Duke University
  • Calculus: Single Variable from the University of Pennsylvania
  • Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach from Duke University
  • Pre-Calculus from the University of California, Irvine
  • Algebra from the University of California, Irvine

To receive college credit, students need to sign up for Coursera's signature track policy in the course, take the course's credit recommendation exam through ProctorU (an online service where a proctor observes the student via webcam) for a fee ranging from $US 69 - 79, and forward the ACE credit transcripts to their university[7].[27] edX and Udacity, on the other hand, have partnered with Pearson to provide examinations at their test centres.[9]

Course completion rates

MOOC dropout rates are very high and completion rates are very low [47], often lower than 10%.[48]

Some possible explanations include a lack of commitment from participants, as well as a lack of preparedness for university-level work;[28] in fact, one of the main criticisms of MOOCs is that they are only effective in educating the 1% of learners that would excel in any learning environment.[49] The low completion rates may eventually be addressed by emerging software that can automatically determine where a student went wrong and suggest corrections[28] or track the individual’s learning path and style to produce personalized lesson plans.[50]

Alternatively, the focus could be shifted from the failures—overall dropout and completion rates—to the successes—increased global access to quality education and the number of students that complete the courses compared with on-campus rates.[47]

Student Authentication

Issues related to assessment for MOOCs involve cheating and plagiarism, as well as inconsistent results for peer feedback.[51]

Because cheating is a reality in online environments,[28] researchers will continue to develop methods for verifying participants’ work,[25] such as keystroke biometrics recently implemented by Coursera.[27] This system analyses the pattern and rhythm of the participants’ typing to verify their identities. At the beginning of the course, registrants provide picture ID, a webcam photo, and a short sample of their writing. Every time they submit an assignment they must type in the same passage so that the system can compare the keyboarding pattern to their original sample.[29]

As listed above, the primary MOOC providers have now teamed with ProctorU and Pearson to provide either online proctoring via webcams or test examination centres for exams to reduce the risk of students cheating on exams.

MOOCs have the potential to change the world of education.[50] Public expectations, and tolerance for pedagogical guidance and revenue models, will determine if, and how, that will happen.


Significant pedagogical concerns have been raised by critics like Larry Cuban (2013)[52] and Joseph Harris (2013)[53], who have stated that MOOCs are pedagogically inferior to the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom as they are merely an online version of a textbook. George Siemens, the creator of the first MOOC, has stated that “Most MOOCs do not prepare learners to create, generate, solve and innovate”.[54]

A study performed by the University of Illinois Springfield (The AMP project) that reviewed 5 Coursera MOOCs, 7 Udacity MOOCs and 1 edX MOOC showed that the MOOCs tended to:[55]

  • be objectivist rather than constructivist
  • be primarily teacher-centered
  • focus on convergent answers
  • be highly-structured
  • provide a mix of abstract and concrete content
  • rely on feedback generated by learners
  • focus on individualistic learning, with some encouragement towards online meet-ups and discussion forum participation
  • possess a mix of authentic and artificial assignments
  • set the user role in the middle between active and passive

See also

Authentic Learning Environments
Communities of Practice
Components of Cognitive Apprenticeship: Modeling
Connectivism: Teaching and Learning
Digital Storytelling
Distributed Cognition
Google Products in the Classroom
Informal Learning
Knowledge Building
Knowledge-Building Communities
Learning Platforms 101
Lifelong Learning
A Moodle Approach
Moodle and Constructivism
Multimedia in a constructivist learning environment
On-line Facilitation within Constructivist LE
Personal Learning Environments (PLE)
Situating Connectivism
Social Media in Education
Social Network Sites in Formal Learning Environments
Wikis in Education

Stop Motion Video for ETEC 510

MOOC by Caleigh Minshall


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External links

Videos and podcasts.

Welcome to the brave new world of MOOCs
What is a MOOC?
The true history of MOOCs
George Siemens on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Knowledge in a MOOC
Success in a MOOC


MOOC news andinformation
MOOC aggregator from top universities
A complete list of massive open online courses
EDUCAUSE library
CourseTalk - reviews and ratings for MOOCs

MOOC platforms.

What is Udemy?

Historical MOOCs.

CCK08 - Connectivism and Content Knowledge 2008
ds106 - Digital Storytelling
Learning and Knowledge Analytics 2011
CS221 - Artificial Intelligence: Principles and Techniques
6.002x - Circuits and Electronics