What are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)?


When Stephen Downes and George Siemens coined the term in 2008, massive open online courses (MOOCs) were conceptualized as the next evolution of networked learning. The essence of the original MOOC concept was a web course that people could take from anywhere across the world, with potentially thousands of participants. The basis of this concept was an expansive and diverse set of content, contributed by a variety of experts, educators, and instructors in a specific field, and aggregated into a central repository, such as a web site. What made this content set especially unique was that it could be “remixed” — the materials were not necessarily designed to go together but became associated with each other through the MOOC. A key component of the original vision was that all course materials and the course itself were open source and free — with the door left open for a fee if a participant taking the course wanted university credit to be transcripted for the work. Since those early days, interest in MOOCs has evolved at an unprecedented pace, fueled by the attention given to high profile entrants like Coursera, Udacity, and edX in the popular press. In these new examples, "open" does not necessarily refer to open content or even open access, but only equates to "no charge." Ultimately, many challenges remain to be resolved in supporting learning at scale. The most compelling aspect of the proliferation of MOOCs is that it is helping frame important discussions about online learning that simply could not have taken place before the advent of actual experiments.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • MOOCs are gaining ground in more than one segment of the K-12 sector. Firstly, we are looking into MOOCs as an approach to Reach students in sparsely populated areas, students who may be disadvantaged either due to geographical distances or lack of qualified teachers. Secondly, MOOCs are interesting as a method for capacity building among teachers in combo With School-based and P2P activities. - oysteinjohannessen oysteinjohannessen Nov 21, 2014
  • MOOC has a great potential for learning combined with school based guidance and competence building, for students and teachers. - Ingunn.Bremnes.Stubdal Ingunn.Bremnes.Stubdal Dec 5, 2014
  • I have started a new project about digital learning in the Danish labor market program and include Flipped learning and video as a learning resource. The focal point of accessing learning materials will be an open Mooc access. The argument for using the Mooc access is that it can give the students the opportunity to access learning before (preparation), during and after a course (possibility of repetition and transfer to the workplace). Additionally Mooc platform provides an opportunity for visualise a learning path and self-evaluation in relation to the learned. The platform provides the opportunity to practice courses in open learning environments, as blended courses and distance learning. - stgr stgr Dec 5, 2014
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?


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