Chapter 5: MOOCs

Purpose of the chapter

MOOCs (Massive, Open, Online Courses) are the most disruptive of all technologically-based innovations in higher education, and as a result are the most controversial.

When you have finished this chapter you should be able to:

  • understand the differences between various kinds of MOOCs, and between MOOCs and other forms of online and open learning;
  • decide on whether or not to develop your own MOOC and what kind of MOOC;
  • advise your administration on whether or not to invest in MOOCs.
For a my personal introduction to this chapter, please click on the podcast below.
For a my personal introduction to this chapter, please click on the podcast below.

What is covered in this chapter

This chapter covers the following topics:

Also in this chapter you will find the following activities:

Key Takeaways

1. MOOCs are forcing every higher education institution to think carefully both about its strategy for online teaching and its approach to open education.

2. MOOCs are not the only form of online learning nor of open educational resources. It is important to look at the strengths and weaknesses of MOOCs within the overall context of online learning and open-ness.

3. There are considerable differences in the design of MOOCs, reflecting different purposes and philosophies.

4. There are currently major structural limitations in MOOCs for developing deep or transformative learning, or for developing the high level knowledge and skills needed in a digital age.

5. MOOCs are at still a relatively early stage of maturity. As their strengths and weaknesses become clearer, and as experience in improving their design grows, they are likely to occupy a significant niche within the higher education learning environment

6. MOOCs could well replace some forms of traditional teaching (such as large lecture classes). However, MOOCs are more likely to remain an important supplement or alternative to other conventional education methods. They are not on their own a solution to the high cost of higher education, although MOOCs are and will continue to be an important factor in forcing change.

7. Perhaps the greatest value of MOOCs in the future will be for providing a means for tackling large global problems through community action.


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Teaching in a Digital Age Copyright © 2015 by Anthony William (Tony) Bates is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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