What is a MOOC?

Video credit:What is a MOOC? – posted by Dave Cormier on YouTube



Have you ever taken an open online class? Have you learned something from a YouTube video or Wikipedia? Have you ever read any online journals or blogs? Those might all be considered open education resources. Learners of all ages and levels are online to learn about the things that they need or want to know.

You may have heard of MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses, these are free and open courses created by faculty from institutions all over the world and usually delivered using a platform like Coursera. UBC has many examples of open education projects and learning resources. Other examples of open learning include single serving video lessons like Khan Academy or Crash Course. It’s important to remember that open educational resources are NOT defined by their cost but instead by how accessible they are for sharing, editing and remixing to suit different contexts, learners and needs.


Think before you ink
In difficult financial climates, it is likely that open education will continue to increase in popularity. However, that isn’t to say that MOOCs are without problems. Some of the key issues with MOOCs are:

  • Class size: Some MOOCs do not have registration restrictions and therefore classes can be quite large. This means that students will not receive the type of timely feedback they are use to in a traditional classroom setting.
  • Instruction: MOOCs generally do not cater to individual learning styles and therefore learners must engage with the course as-is without any possible adaptations.
  • Self motivation: Like any online course, students must be self-motivated and to some extent self- directed. Currently MOOCs have quite low completion rates, so if taking a MOOC really interests you, make sure you have the time and the drive to complete the course.
  • Quality: Some people assume that a course being free makes it less valuable than a fee-based course. Though MOOCs can vary in quality, many reputable institutions are offering more and more free open educational opportunities, which will increase the overall perception of the value of MOOCs. Be wary however of courses which simply act as a way to advertise or market a new product.


The Digital Tattoo Project encourages critical discussion on topics surrounding digital citizenship and online identity. There are no correct answers and every person will view these topics from a different perspective.  Be sure to complete the previous sections before answering the questions.

  • In a tough economic climate where university degrees are returning less and less on their initial investment, do you see value in online learning initiatives such as MOOCs?
  • How do you think online learning could impact your digital identity?

    One response to “What is a MOOC?”

    1. Katie

      While I love the idea of going to school from the comfort of my own bed. I don’t know if I would get the same quality of education online. Thanks for the introduction, I wonder if this is the wave of the future?

    Leave a Reply