A massively open online course (MOOC) is a model for delivering learning content online to virtually any person—and as many of them—who wants to take the course. Course activities can be scheduled or asynchronous, and a fluid structure is valuable because students can choose their level of participation and many will do so in an à la carte manner. A MOOC throws open the doors of a course and invites anyone to enter, resulting in a new learning dynamic. Although this dynamic will make some students uneasy and will force instructors to rethink at least some of the elements of their courses, the MOOC can potentially alter the relationship between learner and instructor and between academe and the wider community. As MOOCs evolve, expectations and methods of presentation will likely crystallize, becoming more consistent and more predictable. Those enrolling in a MOOC are likely to discover learning at its most open on a platform that invites the world not only to see and hear but also to participate and collaborate.
The "7 Things You Should Know About..." series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning technologies. Each brief focuses on a single technology and describes what it is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning. Use these briefs for a no-jargon, quick overview of a topic and share them with time-pressed colleagues.
In addition to the "7 Things You Should Know About…" briefs, you may find other ELI resources useful in addressing teaching, learning, and technology issues at your institution. To learn more, please visit the ELI Resources page.