Guide How to Learn with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

A guide designed to help people who are new to MOOCs

  • Overview
  1. Carolyn
    1. What are MOOCs?
    Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are educational courses which are delivered online and are open to anyone with an Internet connection wishing to enrol. MOOCs are usually delivered via designated websites and run in partnership with universities and other organisations. Typically, the courses feature a blend of video content, quizzes, discussion boards, downloadable readings, and peer-to-peer assessment of learning.

    2. How much does a MOOC cost?
    MOOCs can usually be taken free of charge although some MOOC platforms will have a paid track to gain access to certain features. Usually, the free option will give you access to the course materials, but you may have to pay a fee to have your work graded or receive a course certificate, for example. Fees for these extras can vary, but on average tend to be around $50 for an individual course. Information on fees can be found on the individual course pages.

    3. Why should I enrol in a MOOC?
    MOOCs provide a great way to learn as you can study from anywhere and at any time that suits you. They allow you to build on your skills and knowledge in a vast array of subject areas and provide a great opportunity to advance in your career. If you wish, you can also connect and share knowledge with people from all over the world with the same interests as you through the course discussion boards.

    4. Where can I find a MOOC?
    The best place to start is with one of the main MOOC platforms:
    For more MOOC platforms, see MoocLab's MOOC Platform Comparison Table

    5. How does a MOOC work?
    MOOCs are delivered over the internet so they are a bit different to a traditional classroom-based course. They are usually made up of a series of short (5–20 min) pre-recorded video lectures which you can watch at any time that suits you. There may also be links to other online reading materials. Usually, there will be some online quizzes and assignments or exams. If there are written assignments, these are usually peer-assessed which means that you mark other students work, and they mark yours.

    As a MOOC student, you will also be encouraged to take part in the course discussion forums to exchange ideas.

    Sometimes the courses are structured on a weekly schedule, but you are not necessarily obliged to stick to the recommended schedule if you want to move along at a faster (or slower) pace. This means, however, that you won't be "in sync" with the other learners enrolled on the same course as you.

    6. Will I get a qualification for completing a MOOC?
    You can usually earn a course certificate on successful completion of a MOOC, but most major MOOC platforms will ask you to pay for this service. See Guide - The Ultimate Guide to MOOC Certificates for more information.

    Some providers also offer Certificate Programs which are designed for a deeper learning experience and consist of a series of related courses, often ending with a final project or capstone course. See Guide - MOOC Specialization Programs for more information.

    In some cases, MOOCs may grant transferable college credit or lead to an accredited degree. See MOOCs for Credits for a list of MOOC programs offering college credit.

    7. How do I enrol on a MOOC?
    To enrol on a MOOC, simply click on a course title on the provider's website and then on the Enrol button. (You will be asked to register on the site in order to enrol.) Then follow the instructions provided. Once you have enrolled, you will be able to access the course materials.

    For more information on MOOCs, see MoocLab's other tips & guides: MOOCs | MoocLab - Connecting People to Online Learning

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