Learning from MOOC’s

How do MOOCs fit into the general higher education landscape? Or are they more suited to the “fringe?”

Traditional online classes charge tuition to students who earn credits and are usually limited to a certain number of students before the class is considered to be full (Pappano, 2012). On the other hand, massive open online courses (MOOC) are usually free online courses that are credit-less and just as the title explains, are open to the masses (Pappano, 2012). MOOC’s have become the latest trend amongst colleges and universities and while there are some positives effects for taking MOOC’s there are also some negative effects as students may receive an excellent education but will not receive a diploma after completing courses (BDPA Detroit Chapter, N.D.). MOOC’s were intended to reach the masses offering mostly free classes to anyone who wanted to enroll. However, what has been found is that the majorities of students who enroll in these courses already have a degree and are white males (Selingo, 2014).

What can traditional higher education institutions learn from MOOCs to use them effectively as a learning tool?

Typically a student participating in a MOOC will watch a lecture, read assigned coursework material, participate in discussion forums, and complete tests and quizzes on course materials (Educause, 2013). The courses offered through MOOC’s are numerous and traditional higher education institutions can look for data that entails which courses have high enrollment to include these courses in the institution’s course catalogs. MOOCs provide an endless possibility of educational technology and distance learning (Johnson, Nafukho, LeCounte, Valentin & Valentin, 2014). There are several start-up companies working with universities to offer MOOCs and there are colleges and professors that are starting their own MOOCs (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2012). The opportunity to engage in this new phenomenon and the increase of publicity for MOOCs has universities seeing the unlimited opportunities of engagement between universities and students all over the world (Johnson et al., 2014). Johnson et al. (2014) cited Storey, Wright, and Ulrich stating, “MOOCs enable higher education institutions to focus on the valuable and internal resources of faculty and staff capabilities that already exist in the organization that can assist in outperforming competitors” (p. 11).

How can institutions measure the quality of MOOC design, delivery, and outcomes such that they can be included in a student’s transcript and graduation requirements? Discuss the likelihood of that occurrence.

When the student pays to complete the course for college credit, it is more likely that the student will complete the course, as the course is set up similar to the traditional and online courses as the course has a syllabus, lectures, readings, and assignments that the student must complete (Educause, 2013). Students are in total control when taking a MOOC as the student can navigate through the course and can choose what material the student desires to learn from the course syllabus making the likelihood of the student to complete the course low (Selingo, 2014). While most MOOC’s are free, some involve a fee giving students the option to receive a completion certificate or course credit (Educause, 2013).



BDPA Detroit Chapter. (N.D.). MOOCs: Top 10 sites for free education with elite universities. Retrieved from http://www.bdpa-detroit.org/portal/index.php/comittees/high-school-computer-competition-hscc/29-education/57-moocs-top-10-sites-for-free-education-with-elite-universities.html


Educause. (2013). 7 Things you should know about MOOCs II. Retrieved from


Johnson, D., Nafukho, F., LeCounte, J., Valentin, C. & Valentin, M. (2014). The origin

of MOOCs: The beginning of the revolution of all at once-ness. Retrieved from http://www.ufhrd.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Detra-Johnson.pdf

Pappano, L. (2012). The year of the MOOC. Retrieved from


Selingo, J. J. (2014, October 29). Demystifying the MOOC. The New York Times.

Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/education/edlife/demystifying-the-mooc.html

The Chronicle of Higher Education. (2012). What you need to know about MOOCs.

Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/article/What-You-Need-to-Know-About/133475/

4 thoughts on “Learning from MOOC’s

  1. I think students are more likely to complete the course when they pay a minimal fee. It is easy to walk away from something when it was free but difficult when you feel that you are wasting your money. What are your thoughts?


    • Hello Joyce,
      I totally agree with you. As I navigated through my free course it became quite boring and I felt so unconnected. However, if I had paid money for the course, and knew my reward would be college credit or at least some certificate that could be added to my resume, I wouldn’t hesitate to complete every part of the course.



  2. Comment From Maple Sloley
    Hi Valia,
    Cost is definitely a factor when deciding on attendance to a higher education institution. According to Fortenbury (2013), the cost of education is one of the major factors in the decision of potential students to attend institutions of higher education (Fortenbury, 2013). The current economic situation in the United States may be partial responsible. As a result, numerous types of revenue sources on which colleges/universities rely are no longer able to adequately contribute (Rudden, 2010).  Over the past years, universities and colleges have seen a drastic increase in the fees charged for attendance.  However, the pricing must be affordable for the student, and cost effective for the institution. If this balance is maintained, students will enroll, and institutions will be able to stay afloat and at the same time offering valuable service.
    I believe that many people are attracted to MOOC because the cost effectiveness and the environment that is dissimilar to traditional learning (A Brief History of MOOCs, n.d.).

    A Brief History of MOOCs. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mcgill.ca/maut/current-
    Fortenbury, J. (2013). Should you choose a public or private college? Retrieved from
    Rudden, M. S., A.I.A. (2010). Five recession-driven strategies for planning and managing
    campus facilities. Planning for Higher Education, 39(1), 5-17. Retrieved from http://cupdx.idm.oclc.org/login?


  3. Valia,
    As MOOCs become more popular, there are several ways in which they could be used effectively. Using them as a way to support flipped classrooms or blended learning in regular university courses is one. Since MOOCs have a high degree of autonomy, flexibility, and technological skill, traditional higher education institutions can learn how to use them effectively as learning tools. Your idea about taking these courses as audits is a novel idea which would allow students to get a better understanding of what a course is like before they decide to take it for credit. My only issue with that is time. Would students have the time to do that? Getting valuable feedback is essential to improving MOOCs, and instructors and designers would have the opportunity to modify the course.
    MOOCs need to have standards so that they can be accredited as other courses are. In the Chronicle of Higher Education, an article titled “American Council on Education Recommends 5 MOOCs for Credit.” This council is working to examine the long-term potential of MOOCs becoming accredited by institutions of higher education. However, many institutions want more rigor added to these courses become they grant credit for learning that occurs outside the traditional classroom. What are your Thoughts?
    Dr. G


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