A MOOC is a model of educational delivery that is, to varying degrees, massive, open, online, and a course. Most MOOCs are structured similar to traditional online higher education courses in which students watch lectures, read assigned material, participate in online discussions and forums, and complete quizzes and tests on the course material. The online activities can be augmented by local meet-ups among students who live near one another. MOOCs are typically provided by higher education institutions, often in partnership with “organizers” such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity, though some MOOCs are being offered directly by a college or university. MOOCs arise from the confluence of several important trends, and they raise important questions and spark essential conversations about curriculum design, accreditation, what constitutes a valid learning experience, and who has access to higher education.
The 7 Things You Should Know About... series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning technologies. Each brief focuses on a single technology and describes what it is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning. Use these briefs for a no-jargon, quick overview of a topic and share them with time-pressed colleagues. Some of the issues also include a podcast featuring a short interview with an expert who provides a deeper exploration of additional aspects of the theme.