What are Massive Open Online Courses?

Coined in 2008 by Stephen Downes and George Siemens, massively open online courses (MOOC) are conceptualized as the evolution of networked learning. MOOCs have not yet achieved their envisioned potential, but early experiments are promising. The essence of a MOOC is that it is a web courses that people can take from anywhere across the world, with potentially thousands of participants. The basis of each MOOC is an expansive and diverse set of content, contributed by a variety of experts, educators, and instructors in a specific field, and then aggregated into a central repository, such as web site. What makes this content set especially unique is that it is “remixed” -- the materials are not necessarily designed to go together but become associated with each other through the MOOC. A key component of the original vision is that all course materials and the course itself are open source and free -- with the door left open for a fee if a participant taking the course wishes university credit be transcripted for the work. A second key element is that the structure of MOOCs be minimalist, so as to allow participants to design their own learning path based upon whatever specific knowledge or skill they want to gain. The point is that participants can control how, where, and when they learn. Typically, the only defined elements of MOOCs are assignments in the form of presentations or discourse incited by discussion questions, where thousands of participants exchange ideas and responses in an online forum.

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

  • - kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Feb 10, 2015MOOCs are great for teacher PD, but the new High School MOOCs offered by edX already could have a great application in supporting learners. The edX offerings, begun in 2014, are particularly strong in Math and Physics.
  • not exactly MOOC, school for programming and web design http://www.w3schools.com/ is very popular among students
  • "Pamoja Education continues to develop innovative ways to provide students and teachers with a collaborative and dynamic online learning environment and to support students in achieving their academic potential." see link for more info:http://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/dp-online/ - simon.gauci simon.gauci Oct 21, 2015
  • I do agree that MOOC's have been invaluable for teachers PD, especially for those in the overseas sector who want to upgrade/update our credentials. With the plethora of graduate and post-graduate online learning programs, hybrid-programs, PT programs and summer residency programs, a new world of PD has opened up providing opportunities to stay up to date on best practices. - simon.gauci simon.gauci Oct 21, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • MOOCs get a bad rap due to their low completion rate, but it's important for researchers and educators to take a fresh look at the relationship between intention and retention. Recent research by Coursera folks published in Educause Review (among other recent published studies) suggests that completion is an inappropriate metric for MOOCs since many enroll just to get a small piece of content. - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 22, 2015
  • MOOCs act as a container and context for many of the technologies we discuss on the Horizon Report such as OER, flipped classroom, learning analytics - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 22, 2015
  • MOOC's may continue to feed and already privileged educated class in our society. Those who have access to MOOC's etc., are often arriving with pre-exisiting abilities/skills and opportunities. How can the MOOC's reach the sector who have limited or no access. I am aware of the one lap top per child program http://one.laptop.org/ which seems to continue but still fairly under the radar and is targeted at K-12 audience ( I think) & until MOOC's are more readily available at no cost to the user, they still restrict access and completion by those who can afford them. There are many free online learning class/courses but not full programs, that i am aware of at this time.- simon.gauci simon.gauci Oct 21, 2015

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

  • - kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Feb 10, 2015Will Richardson talks of "learning readiness" and cites MOOCs as an example of how learning online has changed; Richardson calls it an ecological change in teaching. I think even Junior High kids can be exposed to MOOCs, because this may become more and more a path for education. David Price uses the term "heutagogy" (following the path of independent learning where ever it takes you) and he sees it as the best path moving forward. Two thumbs up for the above comments! - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 22, 2015
  • Few will argue that technology is a game changer in education. What remains to be measured is who will the benefactors be? - simon.gauci simon.gauci Oct 21, 2015
  • The personalization (choice of content) and individualization (choice over completion time) that MOOCs provide can easily be applied to even elementary classrooms. When created well with a growth-mindset and inquiry approach in mind, open-ended responses and provocative content could easily be collected in a MOOC-like format. I wonder if the traditional definition of MOOCs will have to change a bit in order for them to be more successful. The best MOOC-like course structure I have come across yet is a paid online course designed for teachers and parents by Stanford University's Mathematics professor and youcubed.org co-founder, Jo Boaler. While the teacher and parent course might not fit the traditional definition here of a MOOC because it did cost money, was primarily delivered by one expert with interviews from others, and the content was all around a central theme, the format and response structure was highly engaging. All content was well-researched and thought-provoking. Designing a range of courses in that model that students could choose from would easily work in elementary schools for personalized growth. The parts of the student course that they designed to go alongside is free and also of very high quality. Leveraging their expertise in layout, content curation and response style might be possible for other topics as well. - sara.schneeberg sara.schneeberg Nov 9, 2015

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

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