Open Education Handbook/MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses)

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a recent development in distance learning and open education. MOOCs combine different OER, e-learning methods and social networks culminating in an online learning experience. MOOCs have a relatively high media profile and are often the subject of controversial claims. MOOC grew out of the OER movement in Canada, where Stephen Downes and George Siemens developed the first MOOC ('Connectivism and Connective Knowledge') in 2008.

MOOCs can take place entirely within a virtual learning environment, entirely outside it, or in some hybrid form. By definition, MOOCs should be open in many respects, though this can mean different things in different contexts. They typically do not require entry requirements or tuition fees and do not carry course credits that are valid towards a formal qualification.

It is common to distinguish different types of MOOCs. The distinction made most often is between xMOOCs and cMOOCs.

Broadly speaking, xMOOCs tend to:

  • Strive for large scale education, transmitting information to a wide audience
  • Make use of short video lectures
  • Feature quizzes and automated assessment

While cMOOCs tend to:

  • Emphasize learner interaction
  • Make use of Connectivist and Constructivist pedagogies
  • Place the accent on forming learning communities
  • Use peer assessment

Some have argued that cMOOCs represent the original spirit of the MOOC experiment more authentically, while xMOOCs focus on scalable business models and sustainability.

Further resources