What are Massive Open Online Courses?

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?

  • I have been watching the discussion of MOOCs for the past six months with great interest. MOOCs have seen quite a bit of opposition for the aspect of completion. However, I think the completion problem can be addressed by improved design and also by understanding that MOOCs may fill a very specific need for instruction/learning and not the end-all delivery mechanism. Perhaps they are a little father out on the horizon. http://pando.com/2013/09/13/moocs-and-the-gartner-hype-cycle-a-very-slow-tsunami/ - mike.jamerson mike.jamerson Feb 9, 2014
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • One of the challenges with MOOCs is the low completion rate. Lots of people start but very few finish. Innovative ways to improve completion rates need to be developed as well as hybrid approaches to using the tool - ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Jan 30, 2014
  • - Gavin Gavin Feb 9, 2014There have been a number of MOOC developments associated with teacher professional development and teachers training which have the potential do offer flexibility in time and place of study among other advantages

(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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