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MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses): What's a MOOC?

This guide will give you an overview of MOOCs, what they are and how they might benefit you.

What's a MOOC?

MOOCs – massive open online courses – are loosely modeled on traditional college courses. The immediate differences are clear in the name – massive (high enrollment, dispersed geographically), open (articulated to free and accessible), and online (web-based facilitation, although for many online also signifies non-human and non-residential). MOOCs are mostly non-credit granting and mostly free. Weekly video lectures anchor courses, around which crowd-sourced homework and Blackboard-like forums orbit. Social media serves as digital TA. Most MOOCs are taught by faculty or instructors at traditional four-year universities worldwide. Three organizations – Coursera, Udacity, and edX – currently dominate the field. For an overview, The Chronicle of Higher Education offers “MOOC Madness,” while visual learners may prefer this mini-MOOC.  (From What is the Media & Cultural Studies of the MOOC?)

The New York Times on MOOCs