What is a MOOC ?(Massive Open Online Course)

30 November 2023
Massive Open Online Course

Assuring out of high school to enrol in higher educational institutes and attain a degree to qualify for a particular occupation is the conventional approach. However, all individuals might not choose the same pathway, especially if they have different obligations and goals.

In some instances, individuals might end up working as soon as they complete their higher education. Nonetheless, they still have academic goals, which is why MOOCs are an ideal option for them because they allow them to pursue distance education.

What is a MOOC?

MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course, is a free web-based distance education learning programme that allows students to learn different courses and skills. Furthermore, the platform has been designed like a college or university course but with a less rigid academic structure.

Also, the system does not always incorporate academic credits; nonetheless, upon the completion of courses, students get certificates. In recent years, it has become one of the most sought-after mediums of education for students all over the world.

How does a MOOC work?

If an expert or academician were to define MOOCs, they would state that they are online courses that individuals can access from anywhere and anytime. These courses include the usual and specialised learning materials that the course facilitator (institute) makes available online.

The learning materials are in the form of multimedia, allowing the students to learn about a given topic in several ways. The following are the kinds of content they can find:

  • Online quizzes and questionnaires
  • Problem sets
  • Interactive learning modules
  • Recorded lecture videos
  • Reading materials such as research papers and thought-piece documents.
  • Interactive study and class sessions are conducted through online classes or discussion forums.

Typically, a university or institute helms the smooth facilitation of MOOC courses and administers appropriate course materials and instructors. Furthermore, they also integrate technological infrastructure and student support services.

Consequently, they strive to ensure that they get access to quality education that is on par with the conventional educational system.

Why choose MOOCs?


1. No Physical Boundaries

Leaving home and moving to another state, city, or country to pursue higher studies is a dream and aspiration for many students. In fact, many parents often encourage their children to enrol in renowned institutes, enabling them to get the best quality education.

Unfortunately, that is not the case with a lot of such individuals who start working early on in their lives, shortly after finishing school. The best thing about MOOCs is that students don’t need to travel anywhere to study or resume their academics.

They can study from the comfort of their homes; all they need is an internet connection and a well-functioning computer or laptop. Therefore, they can continue their work and self-study without having to sacrifice either of them.

2. Access to Excellent Higher Education

"Online courses might not have the same quality and standard as regular courses," is a statement that one might have heard many times. However, contrary to this misconception, online courses have been specially designed to meet the needs of learners.

Furthermore, given the fact that students will be accessing them remotely, more thought and effort will go into content curation and development. As a result, the output that students get is carefully thought-out course and programme modules and relevant content.

On top of that, some institutes provide 24/7 student support services, ensuring that learners can resolve their issues accordingly.

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3. Affordable Education

One of the first results that one might get after looking into what a MOOC is is that it is free. Therefore, students can access online learning materials without paying any fees beforehand, allowing them to avoid investing in paper-based learning materials as well.

Although MOOC courses are free, a few of them include a particular fee structure for a free trial, while others might require a monthly subscription. However, many students prefer free courses that enable them to learn varied subjects.

4. Working and learning

The dynamics of the current workplace have changed and will continue to change due to ever-changing socio-economic and technological changes. As a result, the workforce needs to consist of competent individuals who are well aware of the circumstances.

Therefore, it is hardly surprising that organisations strive to employ individuals who possess relevant skills and knowledge. Besides, there is an urgent need for people with problem-solving skills who can come up with creative solutions to varied issues.

That is where massive online courses can prove to be useful, assisting people to learn new skills that can help them in their career development. Besides, they can simultaneously work and learn; by the time they finish a particular course, they will be ready to face the challenges at work.

5. 21st Century Skills Enhancement

Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, data science, etc. are some of the newest technologies and solutions that organisations use to strategize and accelerate their operations. Individuals who are well aware of such tech knowledge stand apart from the rest.

Moreover, the current educational trends indicate the importance of skill-based training and education, which will make students future-ready. Besides, it indicates that institutes play a critical role in helping individuals get a practical and theoretical understanding of the varied in-demand skills.

MOOCs, meaning massive open online courses, are integral to providing students with proper instruction and training in varied skills such as:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Communication skills
  • Media literacy
  • Analytical ability
  • ICT literacy
  • Collaboration or social skills
  • Time management skills
  • Research skills
  • Creative thinking skills

These skills are critical for developing an overall capacity to deal with issues efficiently, and they also contribute to their personal and professional development. Furthermore, institutes ensure that students learn these core skills, irrespective of whatever course they choose.

6. Flexible Learning

Rushing to the college or institute premises to attend classes or staying up all night to study for an upcoming test is common. Nonetheless, students do not need to resort to these conventional methods for distance learning.

On the contrary, they have the liberty to learn at their own pace without having to keep up with the rest of the class. They don’t need to worry about the pending assignments, as a flexible structure is the foundation for the MOOCs.

For instance, even if they cannot attend online classes, they can watch the prerecorded lectures towards the end of the week. However, a student's commitment to their academics is a key factor that determines their educational success. Hence, they must create a schedule that includes the following:

  • Create a timetable that helps to separate time for study sessions after work.
  • Most institutes keep posting regular updates about classes, assignments, presentations, and conventions. So, ensure to check the course facilitator’s official website regularly.
  • Refrain from letting the assignments pile up by allotting at least fifteen minutes of a day to them.
  • Unavoidable circumstances may lead one to break away from a set routine; however, one should strive to maintain consistency as much as possible.
  • Consistency is the key to success; hence, students must retrace their steps to their learning paths once they realise they have gone off track.

Final Words,

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are online distance courses that students can enrol in to gain training in varied courses. Multiple modes of interactive teaching and learning make it a suitable educational platform for students with specific learning needs.

Prashant Borkar Author:

Prashant Borkar,

Academic Consultant

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