A-Z Tools & Technologies: MOOCs

MOOC_poster_mathplourdeAlthough not strictly a tool or technology, we thought MOOCs would make an ideal topic for our latest post in the A-Z series!

What are MOOCs?

Massive open online course (MOOC) are free courses, available over the internet via social networking, which integrate input from an expert in a particular field with a collection of freely accessible electronic resources made accessible to potentially thousands of registered students. ‘Massive’ refers to the large number of participants; ‘open’ refers to the open-source nature of the software, means that anyone can register and that the curriculum is loosely organised and changeable.

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user fora that help build a community for students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). MOOCs are a recent development in distance education.

How do MOOCs work?

Although the curriculum for a MOOC might be identical to that of a standard course, learning activities are typically restructured to better match the dynamic of a large and fluid group of participants. Course activities could be scheduled or asynchronous, and a flexible structure is valuable because students can choose their level of participation and many will do so in an à la carte manner. A MOOC is typically hosted on easily accessible sites such as a wiki, blog, or a Google site. In addition, course interactions might take place in blogs, tweets, and other public, online venues. Public announcements regarding the course are generally made on blogs, academic websites, or professional organisations.

[gview file=”http://blog.yorksj.ac.uk/moodle/files/2014/02/ELI7078.pdf”]

What about Teaching & Learning?

MOOCs are a great way for staff to continue their professional development through flexible online learning. Students may also benefit from participating in MOOCs to supplement existing module content.

I want to do a MOOC!

Coursera currently offer the largest portfolio of MOOCs, followed by sites such as Udacity, and the new UK-based initiative FutureLearn.

Have you participated in a MOOC? How was it for you?



Phil Vincent

Phil’s focus is to work across Faculties to support the implementation of the Academic Strategy, and in particular contribute to the effective development and implementation of technology enhanced learning.

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