Distance Learning E-Learning Online Learning

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Blog 04 – Week 06

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

In week 5 of EL6052, we were introduced to the concepts of Massive Open Online Courses, commonly known as MOOCs. We were taught the typical characteristics of MOOCs and the various platforms that include these MOOCs, such as edX, Udemy, FutureLearn, and Coursera, to name a few. Another interesting concept that was introduced was Digital Badges. These are online representations of earned knowledge and skills. They help to communicate skills and achievements by providing visual symbols of accomplishments which are embedded with verifiable data and evidence that can be shared across the web ( 2016).

MOOCs provide learners with a wide variety of information. This information can be in the form of reading material, lectures, and videos. This ensure allows learners to refer to all of them to enhance their learning (Mehta 2020). I believe that the best feature that MOOCs provide is the ability to learn at your own pace. You have the option to log in to the MOOC portal whenever you wish and access the course from anywhere in the world.

In 2008, MOOCs were first developed by George Siemens and Stephen Downs. However, it really took off in 2012, when Professors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig of Stanford University offered the online course called Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. This course had approximately 1,600,000 students participating from 190 countries. Thus, a new business model was developed for online knowledge sharing (Skrikanth 2020).

Over the past decade, MOOCs have transformed education into an easily accessible public commodity. MOOCs provide an easier enrolment process and learners can pursue online courses from the comfort of homes. With everyone having access to the internet and due to the advancements in technology, MOOCs have created a huge e-learning platform where instructors and learners connect with each other on a global scale (EBS Dev 2021). Even though MOOCs have benefitted learners there have been some areas where MOOCs have been disadvantaged as well.


  • The courses offered are free of cost.
  • It provides access to lecturers from top schools and colleges.
  • The courses offer admission to everyone.
  • The courses can be learnt at your own pace.
  • It provides networking between instructors, lecturers, and online learners.


  • It requires the learner to be self-disciplined.
  • Sometimes courses can display high attrition rates.
  • Lack of face-to-face interaction.
  • Requires an internet connection.
  • Not suitable for the learner with visual or learning disabilities

The takeaway for me is that MOOCs have replaced the traditional way of classroom teaching. They are a cheaper and more efficient way to gain knowledge and skills. This puts a lot of pressure on educational institutions in terms of online teaching and open education resources (OERs). MOOCs, however, are still in their early stages of maturity and in time, they will also occupy a significant place within the higher education learning environment. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in enrolment for MOOCs because of their online business model, their affordability and easy access to online content. If stakeholders can tackle the current challenges that MOOCs face, we might see a complete shift in our education system in the years to come.


Dev, E.B.S. (2021). Advantages and Disadvantages of MOOCs. [online] Elearning Best Spot. Available at:  [Accessed 4 Mar. 2022].

Mehta, N. (2020). What Is MOOC-Based Learning? [online] Available at:

Open Badges (2016) About Open Badges [online], available: [Accessed 4 Mar. 2022].

Srikanth, M. (2020). Advantages & Disadvantages of MOOCs for Learning | Infopro Learning. [online] Available at:

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