MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. The “massive” stands for enrollments because they are unlimited.
“Open” is because anyone can enroll and there is no admission process.
“Online” is because they are delivered via the internet. Lastly, “course” because their goal is to teach a specific subject.
MOOC typically comprises video lessons, readings, assessments and discussion forums.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) allow to access a course that is open and participatory to an unlimited number of students around the world.
According to the article MOOC Completion and Retention in the Context of Student Intent by Justin Reich (2014), MOOC completion rates are higher in students who are committed to complete a course, but a smaller percentage of the students enroll in the course.
By their nature, MOOCs accommodate for students of similar interests with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and locations around the world.
Some MOOCs offer certifications, which range from statements of accomplishment for meeting minimum course standards to verified certificates for passing proctored exams; although, most MOOCs do not count for college credit.
Most students who start MOOCs do not finish the course to receive the certification.
While MOOCs (or at least MOOC-like courses) have arguably been around for decades, Dave Cormier is credited with coining the term “MOOC” to describe the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course delivered by George Siemens and Stephen Downes in 2008.
2000 people around the world took this course online for free.
Today, the proliferation of MOOC providers has emerged including several big players.
For example, Coursera offers over 300 MOOCs on its platform, while earlier this year Udacity’s Introduction to Computer Science class attracted over 300,000 students.
The most important advantage of MOOCs is that they are free.
Right now, most MOOCs are free or nearly free, which is a definite plus for students. This is likely to change as universities look for ways to defray the high cost of creating MOOCs.
MOOCs provide a solution to overcrowding. It forces professors to improve lectures, because the best MOOCs are short.
They are usually an hour at the most and address a single topic, so professors are forced to examine every bit of material as well as their teaching methods.
MOOCs are real college courses that are completed with tests and grades.
They are filled with multiple-choice questions and discussions that test comprehension. They are designed to ensure that students keep up.
It also brings people together from all over the world.
MOOCs allow teachers to make the most out of classroom time in blended classes.
In what is called a "flipped classroom," teachers send students home with assignments to listen to or watch a recorded lecture, read it, and return to the classroom for more valuable discussion time or other interactive learning.
The controversy surrounding MOOCs includes strong concerns about how they will shape the future of higher education.
One of the cons is that it makes the discussion a challenge.
It’s impossible to facilitate meaningful conversations in a classroom with 150,000 students.
There are electronic alternatives: message boards, forums, chat rooms, etc.; but the intimacy of face-to-face communication is lost and emotions are often misunderstood.
This is a challenge for humanities courses.
Second, grading papers is impossible.
Even with the help of graduate students, grading tens of thousands of essays or research papers is daunting, to say the least.
Third, intellectual property and financial details are issues.
Who owns an online course when the professor who creates it moves to another university? Who gets paid for teaching and/or creating online courses?
MOOC companies have issues that must be dealt with in upcoming years.
Lastly, this style of teaching could shrink university faculties, or even eventually eliminate them.
Who needs professors when a school can hire an adjunct to manage a MOOC class?
Fewer professors will mean fewer PhDs granted, smaller graduate programs, fewer fields, and subfields taught.
MOOCs have the potential to contribute to learning, but they have accreditation problems.
It is also very difficult for students to focus on them.
They also have various problems, such as lack of ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction).
In addition, another problem is the lack of interaction; however, a variety of free and flexible courses can be a great advantage of learning.
MOOCs are controversial.
Some say they are the future of higher education. Others see MOOCs as the eventual downfall of higher education.
I think that we cannot avoid the change that will go through the future of higher education with this technology developing rapidly every day.