Open Education Info Center

Students: Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs)

The New York Times named the year 2012 as the “Year of the MOOC” due to the amount of attention and capital it attracted. MOOCs may not be as massive as when it first attracted attention, and people are no longer blindly thinking that this is the answer to problems in educational inequity. Nonetheless, MOOCs still deserve a close look, as it is evolving as an important part of open education, and it offers self learners many benefits if utilised well.

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What is a MOOC?

The first MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) was given by George Siemens and Stephen Downes as an open version of a campus course. MOOCs became immensely popular when two Stanford professors ran a course on Artificial Intelligence as an open enrollment course in 2011. The course attracted approximately 300,000 sign-ups. The following year, Harvard and MIT founded edX, a MOOC platform. Other MOOC initiatives such as Coursera, Udacity, and FutureLearn followed. Although often associated with OERs, MOOCs are very different in that they do not necessarily use open licenses. Contents are copyrighted in many cases, and users should use discretion when using the materials used in MOOCs. Here’s a short video on What is a MOOC? as a starter.

Are MOOCs OERs? Can I use them in my class?

Not all MOOCs are OERs. Do look closely at the license terms if you want to use the materials used/created in the MOOC elsewhere for your personal use. The good news is that more MOOCs are using open licenses on the course materials

Where can I find MOOCs?

You can either check individually with your favorite MOOC providers, or you can subscribe to one of these websites that aggregate all MOOCs in one place such as and