How are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) different from OER?


A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs provide interactive user forums to support community interactions among students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs) (Source). Although anyone may register to take a MOOC and access much of its content free of cost, some of the best-known MOOC providers are commercial entities whose business model includes charges students fees in exchange for additional features such as identity verification, proctored assessments, or certificates of completion. Furthermore, while some MOOCs are based on OER and are openly accessible for asynchronous use, others are based on copyrighted resources hosted within proprietary platforms and restrict access to a specific time period for synchronous use. Thus, although OER are defined by the 5R permissions to freely reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute content, users of MOOCs are typically not granted any of these permissions.

Although MOOCs were once widely touted as the future of global education (e.g., The New York Times proclaimed 2012 to be the “Year of the MOOC”), in recent years MOOCs have come under severe criticism for their low completion rates (~4%), very high production costs (typically borne by university partners), and because the majority of people who enrol in MOOCs are already-well-educated residents of developed countries.

Some of the questions and concerns about what might or ought to constitute a MOOC are reflected in the image below.

MOOC image (CC-BY):

Massive Open Online Courses, MOOC, MOOCs, OER, remix, redistribute, course, support, access, design, interactivity, certification, fees, synchronous, asynchronous, completion