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May’s Article

What is a MOOC?

(Source: Wikipedia, author: Mathieu Plourde)
A MOOC is a massively open online course whose objective is to reach the largest
and the most geographically diversified audience as possible, through an open access via
web. The term MOOC was coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier, from the University of Prince
Edward Island for a course offered by the University of Manitoba, called "Connectivism and
Connective Knowledge."
A MOOC is not just like a traditional online course. Usually, in addition to the
common course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, a MOOC aims at
building strong communities that connect learners with professors through interactive
platforms or forums that allow them to cooperate and discuss the course’s content.
MOOCs are currently seen as part of a larger disruptive innovation taking place in
higher education because they offer students the opportunity to study high quality
courses online with prestigious universities, normally at no cost. While the
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majority of courses are free, for some "premium" services, such as certification of
completion, can be charged a fee.
Benefits and Challenges
The MOOC Guide enumerates both the benefits and the challenges of MOOCs.
Among the benefits is the fact that they are appropriate for any setting that has
connectivity (Web or Wi-Fi), in addition, they are available in multiple language and most of
them do not have any specific entry requirements. Moreover, they allow students to escape
time zones and overcome physical boundaries. Besides, they present contextualized content
that can be shared and discussed by all participants in an informal environment, and this
peer-to-peer contact can trigger unexpected learning, In short, MOOCs enhance personal
learning environment and network by participating, and contribute to improve lifelong
learning skills.
Among the challenges is the fact MOOCs require students to have a reasonable degree
of digital literacy. Beyond that they might seem chaotic as participants create their own
content (and share with the other students). As any other course, a MOOC demands time
and effort from the participants besides requiring participants to be able to self-regulate, in
order for them to achieve their own learning goals.
Popular MOOCs websites include:
- edX combines the power of top universities including Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Harvard, and University of California Berkeley to create top-notch open
- Coursera is a consortium of collaborating colleges including California Institute of
Technology, University of Washington, Stanford University, Princeton University, Duke
University, John Hopkins University, and many others.
FEP Finance Club,
April, 2014
For more information about MOOCs please visit:

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Benjamin Franklin

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José Pedro Silva

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